Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

This baked cheesecake has a trio of decadent flavours. Deep, rich chocolate; smooth caramel and the warmth of roasted hazelnuts. I first made it over a decade ago, and from that moment it’s become my “famous” cheesecake, often requested at parties and events. It has a professional finish, yet it is so easy to make and it’s one of my most used recipes from the Hummingbird Bakery’s “Cake Days”.

The Instant Pot is one of the best ways to bake a cheescake, and using the waterbath method will ensure that your cheesecakes bake evenly and don’t crack.

For a quick video tutorial, you can check out my instagram here.

Recipe as follows:

yields aprrox 8-12 slices
equipment: 20cm/8 inch round cake tin (preferably springform pan), deep roasting tin, aluminium foil

Ingredients:

Base:
220gr digestive/tennis biscuits (for an extra decadent cheescake you could crush lotus biscuits)
100gr unsalted butter

Cheesecake:
700gr full-fat cream cheese
120gr caster sugar
3 eggs
50gr Nestle tinned caramel
50gr dark chocolate broken into pieces

Topping:
4 tbsp tinned caramel
50gr hazelnuts, roasted and chopped into halves

1. Line the base of the cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush the biscuits with a rolling pin.

3. Melt the butter, add to the biscuit crumbs in a bowl and stir together. Tip the biscuit mixture into the tin and press it firmly in with a spoon. Place in the fridge and chill for 20-30 minutes.

4. If you are baking in an oven, preheat to 160C at this point (alternatively, Instant Pot requires no pre preperation) Preheat the oven to 160C.

5. Cream the cream cheese and sugar with an electric whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing at medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Make sure not to overmix, as this can cause cracks in the cheesecake when baked.

6. Set a third of the cheesecake mixture aside in a separate bowl. Stir the tinned caramel in the remaining two thirds and spoon into the cake tin onto the biscuit base.

7. Melt the chocolate, leave it to cool slightly and stir into the cheesecake mixture that you’ve set aside. Spoon this mixture onto the caramel cheesecake mixture in the tin and smooth over. 

8. Wrap the cake tin in aluminium foil so that no water can enter the tin, folding it slightly over the sides of the tin. Place a cup of water at the bottom of your Instant Pot and close the lid and set valve to seal. Select pressure cook function and choose 40 minutes. Let it do a natural release for about 20 minutes and then open valve to venting. Once your metal popper has gone done, safely open up you lid and take your cheesecake out. It should have a slight wobble in the middle. (If Baking, fill a roasting tin until the water is about 5mm(1/4inch) from the top of the tin. Place the cheesecake in and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes).

9. Once baked, allow cheesecake to cool in the tin (to room temperature). Then place it in the fridge for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight.

10. Remove the cheesecake from the spring-form tin, then top with the tinned caramel and sprinkle with hazelnuts.


Trust me, this cheesecake is well worth the wait, the flavour, and presentation, is amazing!

Flash Giveaway – Win tickets to the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 premiere

Flash Giveaway – Win tickets to the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 premiere

Lockdown 2020 saw my boys being introduced to the world of Sonic (and gaming). They are obsessed, they LOVE the movie, they LOVE the game and they LOVE the character. We were sadly disappointed at the lack of Sonic merchandise available in South Africa and even considered shipping some in from the UK for birthdays last year. Retailers, could we get some more Sonic toys please?

The good news in our favourite little blue hedgehog is back for a next-level adventure in SONIC THEHEDGEHOG 2. After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when the villainous Dr. Robotnik returns, this time with a new partner, Knuckles (my son Yusuf always chooses to play this character), in search of an emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands.

Giveaway

We get our first screening in South Africa this week, and the boys are SO EXCITED! To celebrate the launch of the new movie, i’ll be giving away 3 sets of tickets across Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg for the first screening on Wednesday 30th March at 17h30.

To enter: Simply comment below with your email address, city of choice and the name of the villain from the Sonic movie. Please ensure the email you leave is one that is checked regularly, as I will be communicating the winners details through that.

Details are as follows:

Cape Town

30th of March at Cavendish 2 at 17h30

Johannesburg

30th of March at Rosebank the Zone 3 at 17h30

Durban

30th of March at Gateway 16 at 17h30

Each person will win 4 tickets to see the movie, including popcorn and drinks.

Giveaway will end on March 29th at 12 noon, winners will be announced through Instagram that evening.

Eucerin’s Ato-Control Range; The Perfect Solution For Soft, Healthy Skin

Eucerin’s Ato-Control Range; The Perfect Solution For Soft, Healthy Skin

All of my children have suffered with eczema concerns as babies, some more severe than others but it’s always a conversation I end up having at our 6 week check-up.  The one brand my clinic sister has always recommended is Eucerin, yes, even for babies!

The Ato Control range is designed to care and protect dry, irritated skin. We were sent some to review and I’ve been quite surprised by the results.

Our personal favourite is the Eucerin Ato Control Bath & Shower Oil, it’s formulated with Omega-3 and Omega-6 Oils and replenishes the skins barrier to prevent drying. If I’m using it myself, I apply it directly onto damp skin. If I’m using it for the kids, I add a little into their bath water. Its fragrance and preservative free and my daughter loves adding her “special oil” into the bath. If you suffer from Atopic Dermatitis or eczema flare ups this will work wonders. They are tremendously hydrating and provide instant relief for dry, itchy skin.

The Eucerin Ato Control Lotion is suitable for newborns and babies, it provides instant moisture and strengthens the skins barrier, its quite a thick formula but surprisingly absorbs really quickly. It’s made up of more than 60% natural oils and it’s fragrance and paraben free (as are all the Ato Control range.)

Last but not least is the Acute care cream (and this has been a winner for my husband) – Ask any psoriasis or eczema sufferer what keeps them up at night. Itching! The acute care cream soothes and calms redness and irritation and provides welcome relief to get a good, restful nights sleep.

I love the fact that there is one brand we can use across the whole family (especially when it comes to packing for road trips). Eucerin Ato Control is suitable for newborns right the way through to mum and dad (and Granny and Grandpa too)! Available through Clicks and Dischem pharmacies nationwide.

**Body Wash is suitable from newborn and the Acute Care Cream and lotion is suitable from 4 weeks.**

**This article was written in collaboration with Eucerin, all thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A new look and formulation for our favourite all purpose cleaner. Handy Andy goes greener !

A new look and formulation for our favourite all purpose cleaner. Handy Andy goes greener !

You may have noticed a bit of a change to your beloved Handy Andy Cream. In keeping up with Unilever’s Clean Future Strategy, the new bottles of Handy Andy cream feature a new modern look, improved product formulation and an innovative packaging.

The bottles are now 100% recyclable and is actually made with partly
recycled materials, while the cream itself has an improved formula
consisting of 100% natural cleaning particles and a 100% biodegradable fragrance. Yes it may be gentler on the environment, but its certainly tough on stubborn dirt and grease, leaving shiny clean surfaces with no harmful residue. You can clean the grease and grime off your kitchen counter with an easy to rinse formulation that allows you to simply wipe off the dirt and enjoy hygienically clean and beautiful surfaces.

As South Africans we are looking for effective cleaners, that are safe for our families and the environment. A product, like Handy Andy Cream, that we can use across different surfaces and for various different uses. It leaves no harsh residues behind and is easy to rinse, this is great news for parents who worry with their children crawling everywhere!

Tying in with the more natural feel, Handy Andy has also replaced Ammonia with a new, uplifting Eucalyptus fragrance. This new variant comes in 500ml, 750ml and 5L. It leaves behind a wonderful, fresh scent and is harnesses on the powerful properties of Eucalyptus.

The Handy Andy cream is available at all major leading supermarkets across the country.

** This article is written in collaboration with Unilever and Handy Andy South Africa.**

Proudly South African Christmas Gift Guide

Proudly South African Christmas Gift Guide

Top Picks for a Proudly South African Christmas

5 Habits To Implement Today To Keep A Tidy Home

5 Habits To Implement Today To Keep A Tidy Home

We all have that one family member or friend who just knows how to keep a clean house. It never really matters what time of day you visit them; their home always looks the same, spotless! There are no dishes in the sink, kids toys or clothes strewn around, no dust and grime build up on their surfaces. It’s something I DREAM about, having 4 kids in a pretty open plan house, you will always find bowls in my sink and toys scattered everywhere. Staying at home as much as we have has forced me to try to be more organised and neat, just to maintain some sense of sanity.

The truth is though, keeping a tidy home does not always mean having to spend long hours cleaning from top to bottom. In reality, all it takes is a few good housekeeping habits to help you keep your home tidy, with minimal effort. Together with Handy Andy, I have put together five of my best daily cleaning and organization habits, to try to keep my home in order.

1. Freshen up your bedroom first thing every morning

All those TikTok videos and boarding school rules can’t be wrong! While many people might see this as the “least essential” task in cleaning, something as simple as making the bed sets the tone for keeping your space neat and tidy. It also helps you start the day productively, which is likely to be carried out throughout the day.

2. Clean as you go

We have all heard this one before, even though we often forget just how important it is. Putting things away immediately after using them or cleaning up even the tiniest messes can be the difference between a tidy home and an unkempt one, TRUST ME, this has been one of the biggest lessions learn’t cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6 everyday. Adopting this habit will make your life just a little easier while allowing you to use your time purposefully. For example, when walking from room to room, tidy up while you move along. Teach your children that before they take out a new toy to play with, they need to put the other ones back. Wash your plate immediately after eating, or wash those utensils while the food is cooking. Next time you’re in the kitchen waiting for the water in the kettle to boil, try grabbing your cloth and your trusted cleaning product to get a quick clean. It’s amazing what you can get done in those 5 minutes. For a quick spray on and wipe off clean, try the Handy Andy Kitchen Spray. It is fast-acting and highly effective on daily kitchen dirt, leaving your surfaces hygienically clean in just 10 seconds.

3. Don’t forget your floors

Floors are the one surface in your home that experience the most traffic, which means they can get quite messy quicker than any other surface in your home, especially when you have white tiles like we do! When your floors are clean, it lifts the entire room, it’s definitely worth the time put in. The cleaning products you use on your floors also matter, so make sure that you invest in quality products that get the job done efficiently and don’t leave a sticky residue. A product like the Handy Andy floor and All-Purpose cleaner is an excellent example of a product worth purchasing for your home. Not only does it clean stubborn dirt on floors and other surfaces around the house, while killing 99.9% of germs I might add, but it also leaves a streak-free shine and a fresh fragrance.

4. One room at a time

The thought of having to clean various spaces at the same time can often leave you feeling overwhelmed before you even begin. To avoid that daunting feeling you get when it comes to cleaning, try tackling one room at a time. I’ve learnt for example, to NOT start with my kitchen, in fact it doesnt even make sense to go in there until after everyone has finished their breakfast runs. Dedicate specific days to deep cleaning certain areas and use a multiple purpose cleaner so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of swapping out products based on the room you are focusing on. The country’s most trusted multi-purpose cleaner, the Handy Andy Cream, gets rid of grease and stubborn dirt with ease making it the perfect tool to help you tackle the dirt around various surfaces around your home. Everyone loves a product that gets the job done right in a fraction of the time, right?

5. Have a spot for everything

Finally, and this has been my pet project over the last year, the tidest homes often “have a place for everything.” This means being a lot more organised and, at times, chucking out the things you might no longer need. Keeping your home tidy daily becomes much easier when you know where everything needs to go. Put things back in their designated spots immediately after using them, (don’t put it down, put it away), hang up your clothes if they are clean after taking them off or simply throw them into the laundry basket immediately after use. Try strategically placing storage baskets or containers around the house, for example, we keep a basket on our stairs for shoes. I went label mad last year and now everything has it’s own place.

So there you have it, five daily habits for a clean and tidy home which have helped me, as one of the world’s messiest people, get my life back in order. Hopefully, these tips will motivate you to begin making these minor changes for a spotless home. Remember that adjusting to new habits may take time, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, ust take it one room at a time. Try out what seems manageable for you, and set yourself “15 minute” challenges. Did any of these help? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

  • Disclaimer – This article was written in collaboration with Handy Andy South Africa.
Unplanned, Unassisted Home Birth – How our daughter arrived in style.

Unplanned, Unassisted Home Birth – How our daughter arrived in style.

The first thing you should know is that somewhere deep down, I have always wanted a home-birth. The calm, tranquil environment and being in the comfort of your own home always appealed to me. But with having a V-Bac, I always had the “what ifs” in the back of my mind. I have also opted for a shot of pethadine with my other 2 children, so I knew that having a birth with no pain relief of any sort, wasn’t really something I was sold on. My gynae and I joked about it and I said I didn’t think I was strong enough, and how much I admired those women who could “sneeze a kid out”…. Well, be careful what you wish for 🙂 This is the story of how my fourth child entered this world.

It started off like any other day. My second day of maternity leave, I dropped the kids at school, played with my almost two year old toddler, did some grocery shopping, homework and afternoon activity pick ups. I had been feeling generally uncomfortable the whole day but nothing out of the ordinary for 38+ weeks and all of its general bowel and constipation issues 🙂 I made dinner for the family and tried to do a few yoga stretches to relieve the feeling. Taking the kids up to bed, I remember snapping at their hooligan antics at bedtime, telling them my tummy was sore and they should just relax and go to sleep. After putting them to bed, I took a long warm bath to help relieve the discomfort and general feeling of pressure but there certainly weren’t any contractions to take note of. My previous pregnancies also went all the way upto 41 weeks, so I wasn’t expecting anything different this time around either.

At about 10h45 pm I remember feeling the first few contractions (or surges if you follow hypnobirthing), but they weren’t very strong and certainly weren’t in any sort of pattern yet. Never the less, I told my husband to come to bed early because we may be making a hospital trip at 3 or 4 am (based on my previous labors). He came up to bed at about 11h30 pm and at this stage they were more frequent and definitely strong enough to be considered  a “contraction”. I started to actively time them, but they still weren’t lasting for a minute so I thought we still had a long night ahead. I plugged in my ear phones and played 2 Surah Maryams (verses from the Holy Qu’ran) as I lay down to try and rest as much as I could at home. By midnight, my eldest son had jumped into our bed and in the next 5 minutes the contractions went from bearable, to me actively having to focus on breathing through the pain. Time to switch up to my “rainbow rhythm meditations”. I was going to get up to move my son back to his bed at this point but the next contraction was a little more painful and I let out a little whimper so I thought right, time to shower and get to the hospital now. Husband and son fast asleep in bed, I went into the bathroom and was suddenly hit with another contraction. Swearing under my breath at the “stupid meditations not working” (well rather not the meditations itself but me for not being able to relax), I focused my breathing into my tummy like I was told (so grateful for that hypnobirthing course now) and decided to draw a bath instead of a shower (thank goodness). The moment I jumped into the bath at about 00h28 (I checked because I was timing those contractions now), I felt my waters break, but not a normal break like they did with my son or daughter, a huge gush. “OH SHIT” I thought, there is no more time. “OK BABY… OK BABY…. I’m coming, hold on for me, we getting up now, we’re going” I literally said out loud, like my baby could hear me and was going to hold on.

Gripping onto the side of the bath for support I stood up and felt baby’s head. Crap….. “What happens if my husband doesn’t hear me” was my first thought, my second was I could hear my two year old crying in her room so now the kids were awake too, and my third thought was this baby is coming now! “Ahmed…. Ahmed….. BAAAABY” I cried to my husband, “Whaaat”… a sleepy sound emerging from the bedroom came back, obviously roused by my daughters crying too, “Heeelp BAAAAABY”.. 1 x sleepy husband stumbled into the bathroom in a shocked state “What? What do you mean? What must I do ?” “CATCH HER” I said and in literally two breaths (I literally don’t think I even pushed), one for head and one for her body, this super rocket human was brought into the world. Thankfully, I married a skilled cricketer and he caught his daughter before her head touched the water, I pulled her forward onto my chest and lay back in the warm water. Less then 10 minutes from the time my water broke to the time when my baby girl made her appearance. There was no time to “feel pain”, no time to “panic”, my body knew instinctively what to do and I just followed it. This little angel basically birthed herself.

“Go back to the room” I heard my husband telling our son, who clearly had heard everything and was in a shivering state, “I’ll come to you now, just stay in the room”. “What must I do” my husband repeated again. “Call an ambulance and get me some towels”. Trying to assess my newborn in a dark, candle lit room (Yes I actually freaking lit a candle before jumping into that bath), I noticed she was wriggling in a weird way and was still quite blue, then I saw the cord around her neck. Alhumdulliah, THANK YOU to God, for showing me that in time. I unhooked the cord and held her close to me. I can hear my husband swearing at the operator on the phone and realised he had phoned 10111. “NO MAN” I shouted “Call Netcare” (Our private ambulance service).. Thankfully my cell phone was in arms reach and we both ended up calling them at the same time. I can still hear the sheer shock in my voice as I replay the conversation to the operator. “Hello Mam, I need an ambulance, I just had a baby” :), not quite believing it myself. Ahmed brought some towels to me, and then went to tend to the kids, My poor children, had NO IDEA what was going on. Thankfully we have the most incredible live in nanny so next up on speed dial was Servie to come and sit with the children.

The Netcare ambulance were amazing. Within 10 minutes, we dialled them at 00h37 and they were literally there by 00h47. The female paramedic came in and cut baby’s cord, handing our princess to her partner to wrap and warm up. We sat in the bath for about 5 more minutes waiting to see if the placenta would come as contractions had already re-started, but no such luck yet. She suggested we get out the bath and transfer me to the hospital as I needed to deliver the placenta as soon as possible. I got up, put a gown on, my husband grabbed the hospital bags and off I climbed into an ambulance at 1 am holding my newborn baby. YAY now the second round of contractions were really starting. Can we just speed this up I mumbled.. I begged the ambulance to transfer me to Parklane hospital which is where my doctor is, and not TOO far away, however emergency protocol dictates they drive to the closest hospital, which in this case, was Sunninghill.

Here’s where the story turns a little nightmarish…. The casualty ward at this hospital has no maternity casualty unit attached to it. They have a maternity ward, but no maternity casualty facilities and there was no OBGYN on duty. Now for a labour to progress effectively, you as a mama, need to be relaxed and your body needs to be producing that oxytocin, a casualty unit is really not very conducive to a calm, serene environment.
For first time mums, if you are planning a natural birth, after you give birth in a hospital, you normally receive a shot of oxytocin to help deliver the placenta faster. It should come by itself, but this just speeds it up if need be. So whilst my baby girl was safely in my arms, her other “home”, my placenta, was still inside me. The longer it’s inside after birth, the higher your chance of haemorrhaging.

So there I was, like a deer in headlights in this casualty unit. The staff take their time and do all the admin work, connect me to those battery wired heart monitors, and literally joke about how they have no experience with maternity patients to the doctor. I’m hearing all of this, and looking around this strange, cold room and everyone is “waiting” for me to deliver this placenta. The contractions are now beyond painful, worse than the birth itself and in comes in the head casualty doctor/surgeon dude (and he was a big guy). “MAM he said, I need to catheterize you”, we need your bladder to come down do we can get this placenta out now, “No Sir (I literally called him “Sir”, please wait I’m in the middle of a contraction, please don’t do that now, just wait 5 minutes… “I cant wait, you are cramping because the placenta is still inside you, we need to get it out now” he says as he starts to punch my stomach. “You are punching my stomach while I am having a contraction, PLEASE STOP”, I shouted… “MAM if you do not push this placenta out I am taking you to theatre”….( I did not go through a homebirth just to go into theatre dude) “Do you not have a gynae on duty, Is there no midwife here?”, I asked. In between all of this I had a lab guy come into the room to take my blood and to do my COVID SWAB ( I punched the guy, I’m sorry lab guy, it was bad timing), (Seriously, no wonder I couldn’t deliver the damn thing).

Then, I heard someone mention Syntocinon (a synthetic form of oxytocin), (It was the female paramedic who came on check on things) “YES”, I shouted “Do you not have any synthetic oxytocin, please, that will help me.” FINALLY after 45 minutes in ER and 7 failed attempts to find my veins, they insert a drip with the Syntocinon. Less then 3 minutes of that being injected, Sergeant Major doctor dude was back punching my stomach, again I remember telling him to please “STOP THAT” (as my 2 year old shouts), wait for the oxytocin to kick in. “MAM this placenta is retained, it is not going to come out, I am taking you to theatre”…

Queue the singing angels as I see a midwife in a maroon uniform finally enter the room. FINALLY… almost 45 minutes of absolute agony, I have SOMEONE by my side who knows what they are doing. “OK, let’s see why we are having trouble here” She said, and in the correct manner, apologising and saying “Sorry mam”, I’m going to have to check you internally” (take note sergeant major) she told me to push and with a little pull from her side and a push from mine, one fully intact (thank you God) placenta was delivered, and I now burst into tears. “THANK YOU THANK YOU” I said to her, thank you so much for helping me.. And also , screw you Sergeant Major.

All this time my sweet baby girl was being handed from nurse to nurse to hold. I kept asking them to remove the towels and wrap her in blankets. Finally, after the whole ordeal was over they wrapped her up for me. At about 4h30 am I was wheeled into a general ward, my husband went home at about 5h30am to check on the kids and get some rest and I was finally transferred to the maternity unit at 6am. At last, I could relax. Of course, any new mom will know I got ZERO sleep until 8pm that night, but it was worth every minute.

So there it is.. Our little Aaliyah’s dramatic entrance into the world. One thing is for sure babygirl, you were born one determined little sausage. The first thing I noticed was your beautiful almond shaped eyes and your mop of dark hair. You didn’t give a loud cry or scream like your siblings with all the bright hospital lights, but rather some gentle gurgling sounds. Your warm body lay on my chest for 15 minutes just you and I, quiet in our moment and in a bit of shock at what just happened. Your birth was BEAUTIFUL and I wouldn’t change it for the world (except for maybe actually planning it and having a midwife to call instead of going into the hospital), but still, you gave me what I subconsciously wanted, an unmedicated, unassisted, home-birth. A water birth in a sense lol. You gave that to me and you took away any pain. I cannot wait to see the plans that Allah has for you. You are incredible and I thank you for showing and teaching me so much strength. One week later and I am still in absolute awe of what out bodies can do. What we are capable of. This is a salute to all women out there. WE ARE AMAZING. If you are planning a natural birth, TRUST your body. You CAN do this. I hope this inspired you in some way. …

Sensory play with Disney Pixar’s Luca

Sensory play with Disney Pixar’s Luca

I’ve spoken about my love of Italy before, so when I heard about Disney Pixar’s new release “Luca”, I knew it would be a movie we’d be setting our reminders for. Set in the unmistakeable beauty of the Italian Riviera, Luca is the coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Follow along as Luca and Alberto experience adventure with their newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: Luca is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface. Together the two embark on a summer filled with the magic of youth and friendship as they brave the water’s surface to venture to the human town of Portorosso.

We wanted to tap in on some of these seaside moments with a little unique Italian flair. A coral reef mini world made out of pasta! Unlock your child’s imagination with some sensory play to celebrate this fun family movie which hits Cinemas on 18 June 2021 and we can’t wait to follow along on his seaside adventures.

To make your “Underwater Coral Reef” Small World is super easy.

Create a base out of “edible sand”. This is super easy to make with flour, water and food colouring baked at short intervals in the oven. I then crushed up some cereal to add in some depth to the colour.

Dye your Pasta – Take a large Ziplock bag, put about ¼ cup vinegar (or rubbing alcohol) and food colouring. The more food colouring you use, the more vibrant your colours will be. Massage the colours around until mixed and then add in about 2 cups of dry pasta. Dry in the sun. Another option for slightly older children would be to just mix the dry pasta up with some acrylic paint.

Add in a few sea creatures, I used my little Toobs characters, as well as a few small pebbles and shells. Let your kids explore the magical “undersea” wonderland and use the opportunity to teach them about the ocean and the beauty of the reef.

Please note: All activities should be supervised, even though this activity may be “taste safe”, small pasta pieces can still be a choking hazard.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the beautiful movie then to play with pasta. You could also get stuck into some play safe “Ice Cream Dough” to resemble the glorious flavours of gelato. You can see that recipe here.

Whatever you choose to make, take the time to create beautiful memories and have fun celebrating the rich history of Italy. Directed by Academy Award nominee Enrico Casarosa and produced by Andrea Warren “Luca” hits cinemas across Africa from June 18, 2021 and you can bet we will be first in line to watch it !

KELLOGG’S SERVES UP A CREATIVE FEAST!

KELLOGG’S SERVES UP A CREATIVE FEAST!

One of South Africa’s favourite food company, Kellogg’s is on a mission to inspire and evoke a renewed sense of creativity in the kids of Mzansi by transforming ordinary family moments into extraordinary bursts of fun and inspiration.

To do this, the Coco Pops & Rice Krispies vanilla brands have joined forces with art supplies company, Crayola as they seek to nourish the creative juices within each child. The iconic brands have come together in a campaign that serves as a vehicle to bring families together by transforming the lives of kids as they give away educational prizes worth R250 000.

All South Africans  have to do is get their hands on the unique, hard-to-miss Coco Pops and Rice Krispies vanilla packs, enter via USSD and if you colour it in, you get an extra entry to  stand a chance to win educational prizes including school bursaries, tablets, stationary and more.

The Kellogg’s kids’ brands want to promote joy in having families spend time together and reconnecting through the fun on-pack activities. Breakfast can now be a great opportunity for parents to, not only nourish the growth and development of their kids through a great breakfast choice, but they can also help to unleash their creativity and have fun together.

It is Kellogg’s belief that creativity resides not only within the artistically-inclined child, but in all children and it need only be nourished. They aim to show parents and all children that with just a little creative imagination, anything is truly possible.

Kellogg’s will also be sharing some beautiful content pieces of children exploring their wildest imaginations as they respond to the question of how they would make the world a more colourful place and the kind of society they wish to grow up in.

Make sure to stay up to date with the latest fun and creative exploits of South Africa’s future stars by following Kellogg’s South Africa on Facebook and Instagram.

**Disclaimer – This article is a paid for advert by Kellogg’s South Africa**

Instant Pot Valentines Day Recipes

Instant Pot Valentines Day Recipes

Valentines this year is certainly going to look very different. Ever since we started to have children we have incorporated them into our valentines celebrations, after all it’s a day to celebrate love, but this year we are almost certainly spending it at home. I’m a sucker for a picnic, though my husband doesn’t always share my love for sitting on the damp grass and letting bugs walk on your food 🙂 So this year I’ve met him halfway, and planned an “indoor” picnic with easy to cook recipes all done in my trusty Instant Pot.

The first is a winner for every entertaining event. Whether it’s a picnic, a game night or just a casual weekend with friends these sweet siracha flavoured chicken wings are sure to become your go to recipe for easy entertaining.

Sweet Sriracha Chicken Wings

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time16 mins
Total Time21 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Wings, Instant Pot chicken wings, sriracha chicken wings, sweet chilli chicken wings
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken wings
  • Salt and Pepper to Season
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 2 TBLSP Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • 2 tsp Minced Ginger
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • spring onion to garnish

Instructions

  • Season chicken wings with salt and pepper and combine the honey, Sriracha, ginger and garlic to marinade. Leave on for 2 hours before hand if possible.
  • Add a cup of water into your Instant Pot and add the trivet stand. Put the marinated meat on top of the trivet.
  • Close Pot with Lid, seal and set to high pressure for 6 minutes.
  • Natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
  • Take the wings out and brush with any leftover marinade, transfer to a baking sheet and grill for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve with your choice of dip and a sprinkle of sesame seed and chopped up spring onion.

For dessert I’ve picked one of my all time favourites, though I honestly couldn’t decide between these delectable chocolate lava pots or the white chocolate and vanilla pot du creme I made previously. Both are perfectly in tune for a day of love.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chcolate lava cakes instant pots, Chocolate lava cakes, Instant Pot cake, Instant Pot chocolate cakes, melted middle chocolate cake
Servings: 4 People

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 125 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 110 grams dark chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  • Melt the chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl in the microwave,at 30 second intervals. After 30 seconds, stop, mix and pop in again until all melted and combined.
  • In a large bowl add 2 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks, ¼ cup castor sugar, and a pinch of salt.
  • Slowly mix the melted butter into the egg and sugar mixture
  • Fold in flour and vanilla extract
  • Pour into buttered ramekin dishes
  • Add in one cup of water to your instant pot and place trivet stand inside. Place chocolate filled ramekin dishes inside (you should fit 3 at the bottom on at the top).
  • Close Lid and seal, set to high pressure for 8 minutes (I think I did 9 in the end) and quick pressure release.
  • Lift lid carefully off taking care not to spill condensation onto cakes.
  • You can either serve immediately or refrigerate until needed (and then warm up)
  • Dust with a little icing sugar and cocoa powder.

Let me know if you try these recipes and how you will be spending Valentines Day with your loved ones!

** These recipes were written in collaboration with Instant Pot South Africa.**

How to clean with minimal effort

How to clean with minimal effort

2020 was the year we all started to clean, just a little more and I don’t think that trend is going anywhere in 2021. We are all spending more time at home, trying to juggle work, family, cleaning and household chores while everyone remains at home. Time is a commodity, and how we spend it is crucial. This is why when cleaning your home, using the right products and a routine makes the world of difference especially when it comes to your time and making your life easier. Finding the right cleaning product for the job—whether it’s removing stains on your kitchen stove or eliminating the stubborn grime in your bathroom, finding the right product to do the job is half the battle won.

Together with Handy Andy, we’ve put together some simple tips that will help you keep your home spotless with minimal effort.

Declutter as often as you can

Yes, coming from the queen of clutter, I am saying DECLUTTER. Thank you to all who joined me on my recent Declutter challenge, but I’m not done yet! Keeping your home spotless with minimal effort means incorporating changes that will make the cleaning process quicker and hassle free. One of the best practices you can incorporate into your cleaning routine is decluttering the spaces around your home as often as possible.

Clean as you go

Another thing I am starting to practice more of, especially as I spend more time in the kitchen with everyone at home! Sometimes it’s easy to put cleaning the tiny messes you make around the house on the back burner, but these end up contributing the most to the bigger mess you have to clean in the near future. Cooking in my house typically involves a lot of peeling, chopping and of course using every pot in sight. To minimize the mess, clean the tiny messes you create along the way such as discarding the peels, rinsing the spoons and wiping your surfaces immediately after spilling something on your stove to avoid stubborn stains. I’ve been loving the Handy Andy Multi Purpose spray and Kitchen Cleaner that cleans and disinfects any surface in just 10 seconds.

Find a product that does it all for general cleans

Handy Andy multi-purpose cream is an all-in-one product that works on removing stubborn dirt on all surfaces around the home which eliminates the hassle of having to use various products on the many surfaces around your home. I use it on my bathtubs, on my floors, diluted in water for surfaces if need be. Its really is a multipurpose cream.

Keep the dust away

It may not seem like much, but it does make a difference and will save you time in the long run. Wiping down a dusty surface with a wet cloth tends to smear it leaving a muddy residue which we do not want right? So why not try using a damp cloth which will trap the dust particles while cleaning your surfaces without leaving an unpleasant residue. Dusting the surfaces around your home does not take much time or energy but the difference sure is visible.

Try using a product that is tailored for your space for more specific area’s

By this I specifically refer to Kitchens and grease. For surfaces such as stoves and countertops, apply a product that is tailored to all your kitchen cleaning needs. It’s important to always go for a product that is highly effective on daily kitchen dirt, that degreases quickly and easily while leaving your surfaces sparkling clean.

Develop a cleaning routine and pattern

Everyone has their own personal preference, whether you focus on room by room, or dusting on a certain day. Cleaning, especially when you are not used to it or when it’s not your favourite thing to do may feel like a daunting task, but the good news is developing a routine might help take that anxiety away.

Organisation and Consistency

Finally, the key to keeping your home clean at all times is organisation and consistency, something I am slowly learning to be better at. It is important to consistently clean your home and to maintain a level of cleanliness even with these quick and time saving tips. It makes it easier and less of a daunting task. Cleaning  your home should not feel overwhelmingly alarming but more of something to look forward to and to incorporate into your day to day tasks.

Disclaimer : This article was sponsored by Handy Andy

2020 – a year of Gratitude

2020 – a year of Gratitude

It’s just past midnight on the 29th December 2020. The year the World “stood still”. Instead of jumping into bed as I planned on doing, I find myself typing at my computer, reminiscing on the year gone by.

You see, I am such a serial “planner” and “goal setter”, that I am always moving forward, thinking about the “next thing”. The New Year doesn’t mean much to me, to be honest, it’s just the start of another 12-month cycle, but what it does afford me is the time to actually stop. The time to pause and reflect on the months gone by and think about the possibilities moving forward.

Across the globe, the message is that 2020 sucked. It was the “year of COVID”, lockdowns, cancelled plans and disrupted schedules. It caused the whole world to rethink how we work and how we operate, but it also should us possibility and opportunity. It showed us which professions really truly mattered and it taught a large majority of the world, that working remotely, for most people, is actually possible. It taught us that we dont need exorbitant “Oscar” styled weddings or birthday parties that cost enough to feed a small orphanage. It gave the earth a chance to breathe, a pause from carbon emissions and thousands of feet walking through ancient cities. It gave us a chance to really miss those that are truly important to us, and it also showed us who we could do without.

Looking back at the year, once again, I find myself truly humbled and grateful. Under such circumstances there were truly some incredible moments and milestones that need to be celebrated.

It started off with winning an award, not just coming “runner up”, but actually winning in the “SA Blog Awards.” I didn’t dwell on it too much at the time, because there is a lot of drama involved in these awards, but actually, I should have. I work damn hard at what I do, creating content is not as easy as it seems, and it is something I am proud of. So THANK YOU, to each of you who took the time to vote. I haven’t entered again this year, I actually didn’t even get think about it, but it is something that I should be proud of, So thank you!

In February, literally a week before the world started to “lockdown”, we managed to spend two weeks with my sister and her beautiful family. An odd time for a “family holiday”, but look at Gods’ timing, giving us the chance just before we weren’t able to see each other again. We got to spend time in my family home all together, one last time before we said goodbye. My parents were surrounded by their grandchildren and days were filled with swimming and hammock naps. It’s been over 10 months since I have seen any family member now. My “baby” has grown up into a full blown, walking/talking toddler in that time and I am so grateful that we had those 2 weeks, at least.

We were thrown into juggling home schooling and working from home, as a family. Whilst I truly pray I never have to home school again, it taught me appreciation, like never before, for our teachers. I managed to find the balance that I always wanted, managing school drop offs, afternoon activities and work, yet I also realised that having “some” time in the office is sometimes a very good thing. I am in awe of the resilience our children taught us, taking every single thing in their stride. Never questioning “why” or “when will this end”. Wearing their masks every single day without complaint, they just accepted the new normal and moved on.

I realised, as a mother, that any guilt around screen time, especially during the hard lockdown period we faced in South Africa, should be thrown out the window. I was initially so against time on the PlayStation or too many cartoons, and had full days planned of activities to keep them busy. But, I actually realised, with the right games mind you, how it hasn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s been a saving grace on many an afternoon when I have had deadlines looming. Of course, I try to balance it out with quality time, but I learnt to let go of misconceptions I once had.

It was the year that uncovered new passions, even pre-covid. Quizzing my aunts on old school household hacks and actually having the time to deep clean my home. I use the term home because, finally, our house started to resemble more of a “home”. Spending more time within it allowed us to give back more to it, with room renovations and painting, furniture restoring and ticking off goals. Without my handyman dad around, we were forced to do more ourselves and I can proudly proclaim that I now my way around a drill now, my husband is a pool expert and I have a re-found love for upscaling furniture. My organization skills were ramped up and I finally got around to projects like my pantry, kitchen cupboards and our constantly messy garage. All of these things deserve a moment of reflection and a “Wow, I did that” thought.

I was given the opportunity to work with brands that blow my mind, brands that I grew up with and companies that I stand behind wholeheartedly. Companies like Woolworths and Builders South Africa are a dream to me and to have the honour of working with them has been such a massive highlight of my year. My Instant Pot family have once again challenged me to rethink the way I cook and I adore being pushed to try new ways of cooking things, and boy did we cook this year! Who didn’t try recreating KFC or Nandos during lockdown? I am so grateful to every brand I have gotten to work with, being recognised by a product that you truly use everyday never ceases to amaze me. The team at Omo South Africa, Sunlight and Handy Andy, I am truly grateful. Being asked to contribute to LEGO will forever leave me in awe and words can’t begin to describe how much I value these opportunities.

2020 also gave us the biggest surprise, and challenge, yet. Finding out that we were expecting a 4th baby was no where near on our “plan”, but Allah is the best of planners. After the initial crash into a brick wall shock, we are both excited and can’t wait for our little girl to have another younger sibling to play with. Now I just have to deal with all my giving birth during a pandemic anxiety.

We threw ourselves into our work and while I do miss the office interaction, it also showed us just how much we could achieve at home. It was a year of promotions and awards, a year of learning and embracing new ways of working, new technologies and fresh portfolios. Pushing our knowledge into spaces we have never explored before.

It was a year which taught me value. The value of relationships, the value of our health, the value in every day moments and beautiful sunsets. Gratitude. Gratitude at keeping our heads above the water while the country around us battled this virus, not only physically but from an economical point of view. It gave us gratitude at the things we so often took for granted, being able to hop on a flight to visit our siblings or parents, or escaping the city for a “weekend break”. I experienced hurt and heartache, I saw competition and comparison rear its ugly head and a lack of support from areas I once turned to. Through it all though I am grateful, for showing me what is truly important and for the people I can truly turn to.

Gratitude in being able to pay our bills and provide our children with food, comfort and knowledge. It schooled me in thankfulness for my husband too. As much as I “complain”, I thank Allah everyday at the rock he has become. My foundation, my support. If you are reading this babe, I really, truly value you, and I am thankful for all that you do.

We went back to basics with crafts, with Raya Maryam starting to enjoy sensory play and at the same time we explored deeper activities with the boys, learning about crystals and science.

2020 was definitely a year of gratitude for me. I blogged slightly less, but I did more video content and like many of us, found myself on Tiktok more 🙂 Not taking myself so seriously.

For 2021, I have no grand plans or “goals”. I have prayers.

I pray for a healthy birth and delivery of our 4th child and I pray that Allah SWT keeps us safe from this virus. I pray for the people that have been affected, the families whose courses have changed. I pray that the vaccination is effective and quick to get here, because the 2nd quarter still seems very very far away. I pray for our economy, that we may recover somewhat, and that we are able to keep people employed. I pray that whatever may happen, my faith will continue to push me through and lift me up. We can get through this, day by day. 2021 is my year of hope, and lots of prayer.

Thank you, once again, for being a part of my community. Thank you for commenting, sharing and trying my ideas. Thank you for engaging and reaching out. We are all in this together, and without you reading this, my platform wouldn’t even exist! Happy New Year from us, and I look forward to growing more with you in 2021!

Orange Infused Creme Caramel

Orange Infused Creme Caramel

An orange scented custard, floating in a sea of toffee coloured sauce, topped with a deep rich caramel. Learn how to make this smooth, creamy caramel and fall head over heels with the combination of flavours. This easy pressure cooker dessert is sure to wow your guests and bring a touch of flair to the Christmas table.

There are few things in life that are better then a really good Creme Caramel, or Creme Brulee and one of the things I have been enjoying the most in my Instant Pot is experimenting with these custard desserts. From my white chocolate “Pot du Creme” last year, to Creme Brulee and now this Orange Infused Creme Caramel, Instant Pot has really made preparing these decadent desserts an easy task.

Queue endless dessert options for gatherings… (post COVID of course).

Christmas time in our house always features oranges for some reason, whether its an orange at the end of your stocking, or dried oranges in garlands or potpourri, we have always featured citrus. When I was thinking of a unique take on the Creme Caramel, gently infusing it with orange just made sense.

The whole thing is cooked from start to finish in the Instant Pot. From the toffee coloured caramel to the orange infused milk. This is a great addition to any festive table and can be ready in under 30 minutes (with overnight refrigeration). This recipe is a keeper and one I will turn to time and time again!

Orange Infused Creme Caramel

Creamy, orange infused Creme Caramel, made from start to finish in an Instant Pot. Wow your guests with this incredible simple, yet show stopping dessert this festive season.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Creme Caramel, Custard Desserts, Instant Pot Creme Caramel, Instant Pot Flan, Orange Infused Creme Caramel
Servings: 5

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

For Caramel:

  • 3/4 cup (150g) white sugar
  • 80 ml water

For Custard:

  • 1 cup (250ml) full cream milk
  • 1 cup (250ml)  double thick cream 
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract 
  • Zest of one orange
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Summer Berries to top

Instructions

  • For the caramel: Switch on your Instant Pot and set to Sauté, wait until you see the "hot" display. Add the sugar and water and stir once to combine. Allow the sugar to caramelize and then gently swirl until everything is an even dark golden brown, careful not to burn it!  As soon as the golden colour has been achieved quickly remove the inner pot and carefully pour the caramel equally across your ramekins (you should get between 5 and 6). Allow the caramel syrup to cool.
  • Wash out your Inner Pot and once clean, set to Sauté once again. Heat up 1 cup (250ml) full cream milk and 1 cup (250ml) double thick cream. Add in your sugar, 2 tsp (10ml) vanilla extract, the orange zest and a pinch of salt to the warm milk. Stir until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve.
  • Beat 3 eggs in a medium bowl. You are going to temper the eggs, so slowly bring the eggs' temperature up by pouring the warm milk mixture in little by little. Continue to whisk as you pour the remaining milk, make sure you are slow in this step, you don't want to "cook" your eggs.  Pour the mixture in the caramel-filled ramekins through a strainer. Cover each ramekin tightly with foil. 
  • Into clean inner pit, pour 1 cup cold water. Insert the steamer rack and put the covered ramekins on the rack. Secure the lid and move the vent to Sealing Position. Set to Pressure Cook on High for 9 minutes then allow a Natural Release.  
  • Once the valve drops, open lid carefully, try to make sure no water falls onto the foil.  Remove ramekins from Instant Pot and aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.  When ready to serve, dip your ramekins into a bowl of warm water to allow them to invert easily, flip onto a plate and serve with some mint, berries and a touch of orange!
Proudly South African Christmas Gift Guide

Proudly South African Christmas Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again (I cant quite believe it), to round up some of my favourite finds for Kids this Festive Season. You are guaranteed to always find a focus on open-ended, educational toys up on my blog, with a few good old superheros chucked in (because, boys…..). This year I feel it’s even more important however, to focus on our beautiful array of talent here in South Africa. To support proudly South African entrepreneurs and my goodness, we have a huge amount of talent and creativity in our country.

I’ve divided my gift guide into 3 different articles this year, Local, educational and good old “off the shelf” items.

Lets Kick off with our Proudly South African Stuff:

From top left to right:

I’ve made no secret about my love for Thornewood treasures, we have the rainbow stackers, the rainbow peg dolls and next up on my wish list is the incredible rocker. The benefits of rockers are endless and in the pre-school years development is key! They are perfect for rainy days indoors and add in an extra element of fun to any play! From R1300

Dovetail Studio is another one of our favourites and Ang knows the way to my heart! This exquisite sensory table is sure to last a lifetime, but the best part is you can cover the basins to covert it into a functional table as well! R1890h

I feel like I’ve been a part of Charlie Loves Studio right from the start and the pieces just keep getting better and better. This Christmas these gorgeous “My twinkle tot” dolls need to be on your wishlist! R225.

I’m living my best “engineer” life with Stumped Toys, seriously these are the kind of gifts my dad would adore. They have a fantastic range of wooden toys, but my absolute favourite has to be the “Knock a Block” set. You can choose from a starter or bumper version depending on your budget and let your little builders create away! From R335

No Christmas would be complete without a customised stocking from the incredible “Little Banner Company”. No only are you supporting one of the nicest people I know, Claire’s creativity is endless. From bunting to tree decorations, check out her awesome selection. Customised Stockings start from R220.

Busy Books are my thing, I adore them, I really do appreciate the time and investment it takes to create them but my goodness some of them are super pricey. We have been loving our Hedgehog Busy Book from Mums Palette and it is the perfect addition to any holiday bag or trip and it’s the most affordable one I’ve seen! Busy Book from R550.

Calico Ceramics make the cutest DIY Painting Kits for children to paint and play. These would make the perfect stocking filler or table gift for Christmas Dinner (my mum always bought us little gifts for our side plates). R230

Imagine Play has the most beautiful range of open ended wooden toys, I found it impossible to choose just one. Top of my list are these “Village Dwelling” houses (R425) and these “Bright Roller” Sets (R950).

No gift list would be complete without these “Gem stackers” from Liv Bespoke. I’ve seen them all over instagram and I adore how they add in an extra element to traditional building blocks, that and they are just so pretty! At just R220 they are pretty on your pocket, and on your playroom shelf!

Imagine Play has the most beautiful range of open ended wooden toys, I found it impossible to choose just one. Top of my list are these “Village Dwelling” houses (R425) and these “Bright Roller” Sets (R950).

Land of Lark – Probably the most expensive item on my wishlist for the kids this year, but my gosh, would you just look at it! This Wooden “Pop-up Playhouse” is absolutely incredible. With all its gears and levers its such a great addition for any playroom. R3900 (Check out their Ndebele Birchwood house while you’re at it).

They also have the cutest range of play-mats in bonded leather which are great for messy play and crafts. My favourite is the Africa Play-Mat for hours of adventuring fun! R1980

That’s it for my South African round up! Stay tuned for the next 2 days for my educational and more commercial gift guides! I still cant get over the talent we have here in South Africa. Everyone goes on about “Nordic” designs etc, but honestly here in South Africa, the quality is incredible!

Support local this year and let’s rebuild our economy together!

Instant Pot Roast Lamb

Instant Pot Roast Lamb

For many, lamb is considered a traditionally “Easter Dish” but in our house growing up, traditional Christmas meals comprised of anything from a stuffed Roast Chicken, a whole roasted fillet, or a fall off the bone tender leg of lamb.

Instant Pot has really changed the way I do holidays. Christmas days were traditionally spent with 4 or 5 adults in the kitchen, all fighting over kitchen counter space, with hours of prep work. In Africa, with Hot Christmases it was the absolute worst! What I love most about this recipe is that the prep work in minimal, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones over the holiday period, and less time in the kitchen. Order your leg of lamb de-boned from the butcher to allow it to fit comfortably into your instant pot. I like to keep it simple with the meat, pairing it with rosemary, garlic, thyme and some ground chilli flakes for a little kick.

Roll up the deboned leg of lamb and tie with string to keep its shape, then make little slits all over the lamb and stuff it with garlic slivers. Next, finely mince the rosemary, thyme and mix it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub a little oil over the lamb and rub the seasonings into it. Place whole crushed garlic cloves and sticks of rosemary into the centre of the meat. Allow to marinade for a minimum of 2 hours ( I like to leave it overnight).

Switch on your Instant Pot to the saute button and adjust the heat to high. Sear both sides of the lamb roast for about 4-5 minutes.  Hit the cancel button.

Remove the lamb and de-glaze your pot with about a cup of water. Return the lamb and cook for between 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes. I had a leg just over 1kg, so I cooked mine for roughly 55 minutes, but it’s important to allow for a full Natural Pressure Release. If you really want to brown your lamb before serving you can stick in under the grill for 5 minutes before serving.

Once you remove your delicious, juicy lamb, make a little cornflour slurry with cornflour and water and switch your pot back onto Saute mode. Throw in the cornflour mixture, and ass a knob of butter for the most delicious gravy.

Serve with honey glazed baby carrots, crispy roast potatoes, buttery green beans and a drizzle of mint sauce for a delicious English roast meal!

For more festive meal ideas check out this cranberry and orange roast chicken recipe!

Festive Roast Lamb

A wonderfully tender, classic Roast Lamb which makes the perfect center dish for holiday special occasions. Cooked in your pressure cooker in under 2 hours, this delicious dish allows for less time in the kitchen, and more time with your loved ones.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
20 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker
  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 1-2 kg deboned leg of lamb
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • handful fresh rosemary
  • handful fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 tsps Cornflour to create gravy

Instructions

  • Start by rolling up your de-boned lamb, if this has not already been done for you.
  • Cut slits into the meat and insert your garlic pods, I cut mine into half or thirds and evenly distributive throughout your meat. You can also shove in some rosemary sprigs.
  • In the center of the lamb insert 2 to 3 crushed garlic cloves and a few more sprigs of rosemary
  • Rub olive oil all over your meat and season with Salt, fresh black pepper and red chilli flakes and thyme.
  • Switch your IP onto Saute mode, throw in a knob of butter and a glug of olive oil. Brown your lamb evenly on both sides.
  • Remove lamb from the pot and deglaze with about 3/4 cup of water
  • Return back to the pot, put the lid on and switch to Pressure Cook, "high". Depending on the size of the meat select your cook time. For a 1kg I would recommend 50 minutes to 1 hour. For a 2kg I would probably suggest about 1 hour 15 minutes. Once cook time has completed allow pressure to release naturally. (approx 20 minutes).
  • Remove your lamb and allow to rest before carving (If you prefer a browner meat you can grill it for 5 minutes in the oven.
  • Whilst the meat is resting, create a cornflour slurry with about 2 teaspoons of cornflour and a little cold water to mix. Hit saute mode again and add the slurry to the remaining liquid and stir to mix up the most delicious gravy.
  • Serve with traditional crispy roast potatoes, sweet orange glazed baby carrots, green beans and spinach. Have some mint sauce on the side for a spectacular traditional English roast lamb !
Ring Security Camera Review

Ring Security Camera Review

GET YOUR RING SECURITY CAMERA THIS BLACK FRIDAY!

Not a day goes by where the topic of Home security isn’t mentioned here in South Africa, and If you have been looking at installing a home security option, there is no better time to do it than right now. Thankfully, gone are the days of complicated and expensive home security systems. Ring arrived in SA earlier this year, and it has made life so much safer.

I’ve actually been blown away by the features of our Spotlight Camera. I receive an alert on my phone if there is any motion detected,  I can watch the kids swimming from my phone while I’m at work and I can even use the microphone feature to talk to them or shout at them if they are playing too rough! The Spotlight Camera also has a Siren feature that sets off an alarm of 110 decibels, enough to deter any unwanted guests. It has an incredible night vision camera and with the Spotlight Camera, the light shines on when it detects motion.

Ring Africa’s home security offerings utilize HD cameras that connect directly to your smartphone via the Ring App and they have a huge variety of options on hand depending on your needs, from a Doorbell Camera, an Indoor Stick up Cam, to the Spotlight Camera which I opted for. There are options for everyone and can be set up in less then 15 minutes. Ring is really putting the power of home security into the hands of homeowners.

There’s no better time to order yours.

Remember when I mentioned there is no better time to set up your home security? Well, RING has extended their Black Friday Deals for the entire month of November! This month you can literally save up to R1000 on various Ring devices, massive savings!

Some of the more notable Black Friday deals include:
Indoor Cam R999 (R500 saving);
Stick Up Cam Battery R1999 (R500 saving);
Door View Cam (Peephole Cam) R1999 (R1000 saving);
Spotlight Cam Battery R2999 (R1000 saving);
Spotlight Cam Wired R2999 (R1000 saving);
Floodlight Cam R4499 (R1000 saving).

Head on over to my Instagram to see some of the features in my stories or visit TAKEALOT for more information.

To take into consideration before you install yours:

They really do mean it when they say that all RING cameras can be installed in 15 minutes or less, I set up ours and installed it myself! The hardest part for us was deciding where to put it, we initially ordered the wired option, which I thought would be a better option, we wanted it out by our front gate and we have a plug point there, however, our WIFI didn’t reach that far. So, we brought it in a little closer where our WIFI DID reach, and then realized we didn’t have a plug point (should have gone with the battery version). Eventually we settled on our backyard, which worked out perfectly for us, we can keep an eye on the kids and the garden!

Ring Africa products are now officially available in South Africa through: – Takealot, Builders Warehouse, iStore, Incredible Connection and Leroy Merlin.

Disclaimer- This post was written in partnership with Ring South Africa, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Instant Pot Ribs – Sticky Prego Flavour

Instant Pot Ribs – Sticky Prego Flavour

Heritage Day is one of those Public Holiday’s that is Proudly South African. A day to celebrate all of the unique and mixed cultures we have in our Rainbow Nation. No other country in the world can claim to have so many national languages, so many different and unique cultures and such a fantastic array of food!

I asked over on Instagram if you could pick one meal unique to YOUR heritage, what would it be? Here are some of the fantastic answers.

  • Samp and Beans – Which I am proud to say I have tried and tested and actually LOVED in my Instant Pot
  • Chicken Curry – Another one I have successfully “crossed over” and now will only make in my instant pot, i’ll be sharing my favourite recipe soon!
  • Bunny Chow – Last year I did a lamb curry for Heritage Day, you could easily convert that and put it into your bread?
  • Khowse
  • Bobotie & rice
  • Lamb
  • Ribs
  • Koeksisters

So what did I choose to make for Heritage Day?

We adore a good set of ribs, our preference is without a doubt beef ribs. I find the flavour a little more “mild” in comparison to lamb and I love the amount of meat you get on the bone. I have NEVER tried to make them in my Instant Pot, my normally “braai” them but let’s face it, with temperatures soaring as they have been the last week, why not skip the “braai day” and just have a swim and spend the time with your family day?

The ribs were fall off the bone tender, and I finished them off under the grill for 5 minutes so they had that beautiful charred texture. I marinated these in a Prego style sauce and my husbands only complaint was that we didn’t have more ! Served up with mealies (also cooked in my IP), homemade coleslaw and some garlic bread, you couldn’t get more South African if you tried 🙂 Actually we could… For dessert I made a “milk tart” flavoured Crème Brulee, both are some of my ALL TIME favourite desserts, so why not try to combine them?

No dealing with messy water baths here, I steamed them in my Instant Pot and they cooked in 7 minutes! The only let down was I ran out of gas in my blowtorch (which I bought years ago in my Master Chef days, specifically for Brulees 🙂 ), so I had to grill them in the oven, so excuse the less then “Pintrest Worthy” picture, but hey, it was a family meal after all and it’s the taste that counts right? TRUST ME, if you are a fan of Milk Tart or Crème Brulee, you need to try this recipe !

Happy Heritage Day South Africa, may this day bring positivity and a united spirit in us all. Whatever meal you choose, cut down the time cooking, use your Instant Pot and enjoy the day with your family! Recipes below:

For a step by step video tutorial check out my Instagram Page here

Instant Pot Ribs

Tender, fall off the bone, sticky ribs made in record time!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Total Time32 mins
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Steers Prego Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Steers Barbeque Sauce
  • 3 TBSP Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tsp Red Ginger Garlic Masala
  • 1 tsp Crushed Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar For the steaming liquid

Instructions

  • Marinate your ribs in all of the above ingredients (except for the vinegar), Ideally for a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Put 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar into the container and place the metal trivet on top.
  • Place the ribs on the trivet or steamer basket.
  • Place your lid on and make sure the vent is set to steaming.
  • Select pressure cook, make sure its on high pressure and set the timer for 22 minutes.
  • Natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then release the rest.
  • Baste your ribs with the remainder of the marinade and grill/broil for 5 minutes to give them that charred feeling.
  • Get messy and enjoy!
Wacky Box SA – Everything you need to entertain your kids, in one box

Wacky Box SA – Everything you need to entertain your kids, in one box

Lets see how many times you have googled “activities to stimulate my child” this lockdown… 2, 3, 4? As a blogger who focuses a large portion of her writing on activities for children, I have certainly noticed a huge increase in requests for ideas since COVID changed our world. Yet I still find myself at a loss from time to time at what to do. Working from home during this time has also left me with less quality time with my kids (believe it or not), because I am always trying to juggle between the two. I wasn’t finding the time to prep activities for them or to think in advance of things to do, not to mention my craft supplies were dwindling at a rapid rate.

Enter Wacky Box SA. The Wacky Box is brought to you by the Educational Box Company, and it aims to provide support, promote and empower parents in South Africa, giving them the ability and opportunity to spend quality time with their kids, despite their busy lives. Every Wacky Box is jammed packed with activities and follows a different theme for the month. The activities are tried and tested for each age group, and it comes with a detailed instruction booklet for parents, highlighting the benefits of each activity, as well as ways to step it up. The activities inspire both fine and gross motor skills, sensory play as well as arts and music. The box is designed to be completely used up, if fact, even the box and packaging are used as part of the activities.
Our boxes were themed for “senses”, so we had activities such as sticky jelly play, drawing on sandpaper, “listening” by creating shakers, making binoculars, physical movement and of course music themed activities. We even had cinnamon scented oats!

Double it up

My boys are pretty close together in age, so most of the time, I need activities that will engage both of them. One of the things I love the most about Wacky Box is that you can double up your box for siblings for just R110 extra. No more fighting over who gets to do what activity, now they can both do exactly the same thing.

At a time where we are at home more, Wacky Box has been a lifesaver. I haven’t had to think of themes, everything is provided for you, every piece of tape, piece of paper and inch of glue. The boys particularly enjoyed the physical activities, the ping pong ball races and spider climbing. It also prompted “out of the box” thinking (excuse the pun), letting us get creative by drawing on sandpaper to experience different textures. Another aspect I appreciated is that a lot of the materials in the two boxes (we got 4-6 years and 1-2 years) were actually the same. It was just the way the activities were executed that were different. Take the oats for example, For baby they were more of a sensory experience picking up and scooping, filling containers etc, whilst the boys used them to create art. This is a huge benefit when your little one wants to copy her big brothers all the time!

Toddler Play

I jumped at the chance to get a box for my daughter, who is 14 months old. I find myself at a loss of things to do with her, as everything requires supervision, and she isn’t “old enough” for crafts yet. She is at a bit of an “in between phase”, always wanting to do what her big brothers do. We dug animals out of jelly, painted with bells on a brush to add another learning element (I loved this idea) and even reused our box to learn the concept to enhance fine motor skills. It’s been a treat to sit down with her and allowing her to discover new things.

How does it work?

You an order your monthly subscription at just R380 per month, with a different theme chosen for each month. Simply select your appropriate age group and everything is delivered to your door! There are also once off boxes available as well as gifting options. Delivery across South Africa is free.

For more information visit the Wacky Box website, and follow them on FacebookYouTubeInstagram, and Pinterest.

Giveaway:

We will be gifting one lucky parent with a 4 month subscription to WackyBox , worth R1520.

To enter:

  • Like and follow both In these stilettos and Wacky Box SA on Facebook and Instagram .
  • Share this article so more people can find out about this awesome service!

For another chance to win head on over to Mommalikeme to enter!

Winner will be announced on 30 June 2020 and the chosen individual must have a child aged between 5 months and 6 years old.

** Disclaimer ** This article was written in collaboration with Wacky Box, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

20 ways to clean with Chemico Paste

20 ways to clean with Chemico Paste

There are very few cleaning products that can claim to get into everything, from floors and grout in tiles to jewellery, patios, ovens and extractor fans.

You’ve watched my Instagram stories on my cleaning hacks and most of the time I end up resorting to my trusty Chemico Paste.

South Africa’s answer to “The Pink Stuff”, which has gained cult status thanks to the endorsement of Mrs Hinch,  this cleaning miracle tackles Saucepans, braai’s, ceramic tiles, glass, rust, sinks, garden furniture are just some of the varied assortment of household items and surfaces it can be used on.

It is a mildly abrasive cream cleaner that can be used to remove stains, grease and grime leaving surfaces shining like new.

How to use Chemico Paste

Depending on what you are cleaning, it is as easy as getting a damp sponge or cloth, dip into your Chemico scraping up some onto your cloth. The texture is quite thick so it will stay on the sponge.

Test on a small area of what you are cleaning first, just to make sure the paste does not damage what you are cleaning. It is not recommended for plastic surfaces, fabrics or acrylic surfaces . Rub in small circles until the marks have gone. On tougher stains you may want to rub Chemico Paste into the stain before leaving it for an hour or so before wiping off.

So what can you use Chemico on?

1. Your Oven

One of the best places to use Chemico is on your Oven. It is mildly abrasive so it does most of the hard work for you in getting rid of grease, burnt on food and grime. I use it for my oven deep cleans. Add a bit of water to a sponge rub it in the oven and let is sit for a while, put in a bit of elbow grease and your oven will sparkle like it is brand new! It will also restore your oven racks to their former glory removing all signs of grease.

2. Extractor Fan

I literally could not finish cleaning my extractor fan without my Chemico, I had to stop halfway and go and get some more because nothing else removed the stuck on grease like this paste does.

3. Kitchen Sink

Is your Kitchen Sink stainless steel? Do a test on a small part of your sink. Chemico does a great job at restoring your dull sink. Wipe it down with the Paste and buff it back to life!

4. Stove Top

Whether its a glass top or gas burners, Chemico Paste works wonders on your stove. It actually seems to buff out any small scratch marks on my glass stove top.

5. Deep Fryer and Air Fryer

Nothing removes tough grease like Chemico. I tackled my Air Fryer this weekend and used it on the tray as well as inside.

6. Tiles and Grout

I did a test on this using 4 different types of cleaners, and nothing got my grout as clean as Chemico. From bathroom tiles to flooring, apply to the tiles and use an old toothbrush to work it in. It removes any discolouration and mould.

7. Glass 

Is your glass looking a little worse for wear or water stained?
Chemico can actually transform water-marked glass in no time. Buff the paste onto the glass with a sponge and then leave for 10 minutes. Rinse off to reveal a beautiful finish. 

8. Outdoor Furniture

Get rid of mould, rust, and grime from outdoor furniture by giving it a clean with Chemico Paste. Just remember, it’s best suited to metal furniture, not plastic.

9. Braai Stand

If you are looking for a place to test the miracle wonders of this cleaning product, then this is the place to start. Covered in scorch marks and build up, braai’s are a tough place to start. Rub it into the grill racks and leave it to sit for a bit, rub it off to restore the true colour of your braai.

10. Pots and Pans

Are the base of your pans looking a bit unsightly and brown at the base?Massage on Chemico Paste with a little bit of time and scrubbing, they’ll be sparkling again.

11. Rust

Chemico Paste works a dream onto rusty tools, taps, and anything else that could use a little loving care. As a mild abrasive, it’s not recommended to use it on shiny stainless steel .

12. Remove Limescale

Clean limescale off shower heads, taps and kettles with ease. Just be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly after you’ve cleaned. 

13. Stained Work Surfaces

If you have wooden or Melamine work tops, stain build up from grease and spices can occur. Just rub the stain with some of the paste and your counters will look as good as new. 

14. Trainers

Chemico Paste works fantastically on white trainers in need of some love. Just rub the paste onto the soles and edges and wipe off to look brand new.

15. Tyres

If you are looking for the best way to shine up your rims then this is it 🙂 Goodbye brake dust, hello super shiny mags 🙂 Chemico works wonders on your wheels.

16. Bicycles

My Husband decided to pull out his old bike again and safe to say after collecting dust for the last 4 years it needed a good wipe down. I turned straight to Chemico to bring the wheels and the frame back to life.

17. Toilets

You heard me, your toilet. I was battling with hard water stains down the back of my toilet bowl and it was driving me nuts! I tried the bicarb and vinegar hacks and nothing worked, until I used Chemico. You can check it out on my Instagram highlights, but I actually laughed at how easily it came off.

18. Shower

From your plug hole, to your taps and shower glass, Chemico will help to remove any limescale build up.

19. Toaster

Chemico works brilliantly on the top and outside parts of your toaster. Just be careful to not get too much water inside your toaster.

20. Window frames and window sills

It will get rid of any rust, mould or grime build up in a flash!

Some Notes:

  • Always test on an inconspicuous area before trying on a new surface.
  • Be gentle when applying – the abrasive paste can scratch surfaces. 
  • Always wait for your surfaces to cool down first, do not use it on a warm surface..
  • Don’t use it on plastic, acrylic or highly polished stainless steel.
  • Not recommended for use on fabrics


Sight Word Flash Cards For Grade 1

Sight Word Flash Cards For Grade 1

As we enter our 9th week of homeschooling, which is not really “homeschooling” but more “crises management” to be honest, I have been getting more and more frustrated with not having everything I need “in one place”. I’ve been making my own flashcards based on the sight words the school sends every week and I noticed there wasn’t one site that had them all and I have had to jump back and forth between a few.

A few of you asked after seeing my flash cards on my instagram stories the other day where I got my resources from, and inspired by “Just a Mamma” with her number flash cards I thought I would share my sight words.

Before you jump in, I am not a teacher, though I have a massive passion for early childhood development. I have verified this list with the school and they are a combination of both Dolce and Fry’s Sight Words.

Sight words are words that appear frequently in most of the text that our children read, but can’t easily be sounded out. Learning to recognize sight words is the easiest and quickest way for early readers to progress and become confident.

Use them as is or cut them out, stick them onto card and laminate them for easy use. Here’s a tip, if you don’t have access to a laminate machine, stick them between two sheets of contact paper. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for a few fun ways we have learnt to play with sight words, trying my hardest to make learning fun here 🙂 Click here to download your free Grade One Sight Words.

I hope these help you in some way, please tag me or comment if you find them useful or if there are any other resources you are struggling with. We are all in this together and if this helps just one other parent I’ll be happy !

What is the difference between Bicarbonate of Soda and Soda Crystals?

What is the difference between Bicarbonate of Soda and Soda Crystals?

I have had numerous messages on “Soda Crystals”, how and where to find them in South Africa and what to use them for. Stick around, this is truly one of the most versatile cleaning agents to have in your home.

In Europe, you will almost always find Soda Crystals aka “Washing Soda” in the laundry aisle at grocery stores, but this cleaning wonder doesn’t just belong next to your washing machine! Soda Crystals make a useful cleaner for bathrooms, kitchens, and more! Let’s talk a little bit about what washing soda actually is, and why is makes such a useful cleaning agent!

But what is Washing Soda (Soda Crystals)?

Washing soda is also known as sodium carbonate, soda ash, or soda crystals. They are related to baking soda, but are processed differently. Washing Soda is MUCH more alkaline in comparison to Baking Soda, it has a pH of 11, which is why it is so effective at breaking down stains. It is also a base component of many laundry powders, but can cause minor skin irritations, so wear those gloves.

Both Bicarbonate of Soda and Washing Soda can be used to clean laundry, both can be used for household cleaning, but one can be eaten and the other absolutely should not be. “Soda Crystals” have a caustic base and are NOT EDIBLE !

Baking soda is the name commonly used for Sodium Bicarbonate. Baking soda has a mild base that is often used as a leavening agent to raise baked goods. It is edible and is mild enough to be used as toothpaste or taken as an antacid. Baking soda is edible . It has a neutral pH of 8.

Soda Crystals are white-ish in colour with larger granules that can be seen and felt (a little like yeast).

Soda Crystals:

  • Dissolves slowly in water and will leave a white residue if not well rinsed.
  • It makes a more abrasive cleaner that can scratch delicate surfaces but cleans well.
  • Great for cleaning sturdy surfaces or fabrics that are easy to rise (bathtub, shower door).
  • The washing soda will clean without damaging the item and can be washed away easily.

Baking Soda:

  • Sturdy surfaces that are hard to rinse (oven floor or floor grout)
  • Delicate surfaces that can be scratched (natural stone counters)
  • Areas used by children and pets (carpet, pet beds)
  • Food preparation surfaces (kitchen sink, cutting board)
  • Easier to rinse and no residue worry

Brilliant Uses For Soda Crystals

1. Laundry Stains

To use on cottons or linens – soak heavier fabrics in a solution of warm water and washing soda. Just fill a bucket and add about 1/2 cup of Soda Crystals and give it a stir. Soak the stained clothes for an hour or two (or overnight). Remove the items from the washing soda solution and wash as usual.

2. Softening Your Water

One of the most popular ways to use washing soda is as a water softener in your laundry. Add 1/2 cup of soda crystals to your wash load, then add the amount of detergent recommended for soft water. (This can also help prevent limescale buildup on the inside of your machine). You can also use it in your swimming pool!

3. Outdoor cleaning

Washing Soda is very effective at removing moss or algae from patios and pathways. You can also use it to scrub down outdoor wooden furniture.

4. Ovens, & Gas Burner Pans

Dissolve about 1/2 cup to about 3 litres of warm water to clean your oven, grill pans and burner tops of gas stoves. Washing soda can help make some of your toughest cleaning tasks easier. Remove the burner pans and soak them for about 30 minutes. For your oven, dip a damp sponge into the solution and scrub the inside, if it’s really stubborn you can sprinkle it on directly.

5. Pots, Pans, & Cookware

Where are my VIM fans? I’ve used Soda Crystals to help dissolve tough food messes in my pots and pans, and it works like a charm! Just add a couple of tablespoons of washing soda and a small squirt of dish-washing liquid to the pot, pan, or dish, then fill it with hot water and let it soak. Don’t do this on aluminium though!

6. Bathroom Cleans

Use a regular solution of washing soda with a sponge or scrub brush to scrub your bathtub, sink, or shower clean. Washing soda will help to cut through soap scum, greasy residues, and limescale!

7. Your Car battery

Yep, by mixing up that 1/2 cup solution, Washing Soda is hugely effective at removing corrosion around your car battery.

In South Africa “Soda Crystals” are not as easy to purchase as oversea’s. I buy mine from Essentially Natural, but you can also pick them up sometimes at hardware stores, in the pool section!

Instant Pot Haleem

Instant Pot Haleem

Iconic to South African Ramadan, Haleem is a dish that always makes an appearance in this Month. Its a hearty, thick stew packed with meat (either lamb or chicken) and a variety of wheats – Oats, barley, lentils.

Haleem is a staple for Iftaar, and is perfect to break the day long fast as it is wholesome, rich in protein and is easily digestible. I’ve made it a few times but always with Shan pre-mix, which comes with all the spices and grains already. It’s typically a huge effort to make because it takes so long to cook, well not anymore.

I made my own Haleem, in my Instant Pot, from scratch. Yup, you read right, no pre-mix in sight! I honestly never knew it was so easy, for all of these years I have been ordering my Haleem or using the mixes.

I prefer chicken haleem, though traditionally its made with lamb, served with lemon wedges to lift it up. Depending on were you are form there are variations of it, some prefer it thicker, like a stew but in South Africa, most people prefer to serve it like a soup.

Instant Pot Haleem

This wholesome soup is a Ramadan staple and with the Instant Pot and a handy immersion blender, you can have this dish ready in an hour when it normally takes 4-5 hours on the stovetop.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Middle Eastern
Keyword: Chicken Haleem, Haleem, Instant Pot Haleem, Pressure Cookier Haleem
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jungle oats
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1 1/2 litres water
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger/garlic
  • 1/2 chicken cut up
  • 3 whole peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin/coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp green chillies

For the Wagar

  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 whole green chillies split
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala optional
  • chopped coriander

Instructions

  • Start by pre-boiling your oats with salt and water until thick (you can do this in your instant pot in a separate insert as well)
  • Par cook pearled barley as well (I popped mine in water in the microwave for 5 minutes)
  • Select saute function and braise onion in ghee until translucent. Add the chicken and spices and saute further, adding in 1 cup of water. Put lid on and select soup function for 15 minutes.
  • Add oats and barley to the chicken, replace the lid and cook for approx another 6 minutes (on soup still).
  • If you are using chicken on the bone, now is the time to remove the bones and whole spices like cloves, cinnamon etc
  • If you like it smoother, use an immersion blender to gently blend it (Haleem is nice with a bit of chunk). Add more water if need be.
  • In a separate pan, heat the ghee for the Wagar and fry the onion, chilli, cumin seeds and garam masala until onion is crisp.
  • Pour this mixture over the top of your soup, with some fresh coriander to serve.
  • This post was written in collaboration with Instant Pot South Africa.
Mothers Day 2020 – Making the most of lockdown

Mothers Day 2020 – Making the most of lockdown

For many of us Mothers Day will not be the same this year as a result of COVID-19. That familiar hug and brunch with the family will be replaced by Zoom calls and smaller, more intimate family traditions.

Most shops are still shut, but if you have budget to shop there are a couple of options out there to look at to make Mothers Day during lockdown an extra special occasion.

Go Traditional

Woolworths has their winter pyjama range out, which is always an annual Mothers Day gift in our home. Spoil mum with some of their PJ’s, some slippers and a super soft fleece blanket to snuggle up with. Or, if you are anything like me then the last 40 days have been spent living in sweatshirts and hoodies. Netflorist has a great range of personalised hoodies, gowns and cute socks to make mums day. Perfect for the colder weather we are heading into! I also adore this Charlotte Rhys scarf set which adds a little luxury back into life.

Shop Online

Why not stock up mums pantry for an online cooking course, or if you are living at home you can whip her up a MasterChef style 3 course meal.
You may not be able to take mum out for lunch or breakfast, but you can still support business by ordering through your favourite Restaurant through Uber Eats. Breakfast in Bed with croissants from Fournos or get some lunch delivered from our favourite Polpetta restaurant.

A pamper hamper is always a winner and thankfully bath and body products are considered essentials. Have a look at Netflorist’s range here for some super indulgent bath time treats. The Body Shop and Lush South Africa are also allowed to sell selected ranges.

Get Cooking

Top on a lot of mothers wishlists’ is an Instant Pot, and trust me when I say this is one gift that will make her life a whole lot easier! Spoil the special mother in your life by getting her one from YuppieChef and while you are there you can shop for more Level 4 goods, including some specialised tea and coffees!

Get Creative

Most households have had to tighten the belt financially, so if you are looking for a few more homemade options why not consider a “home spa”? Have a look at our homemade bath salts, with a little essential oil added in these are such a wonderful bath time treat. Pair them with some homemade bath bombs for the ultimate pamper experience.

If bath products aren’t her thing, have a look at these 3 easy DIY alternatives, with a few basic craft supplies you can create some wonderful keepsake treasures for mum.

Say it with flowers

Flowers have always been a traditional Mothers Day gift and the incredible Fields of Colour has the most exquisite, freshest flowers in town! They are open for delivery and for every Mothers Day order you place, they will add in a free face shield to keep mum safe. Now that’s innovative thinking! Available for Gauteng only.

Upgrade her home office

I think we can all agree that lockdown has turned our houses into home offices. Suddenly we realise all the supplies we need at home that make our life easier. Printers, computers, stationery. Logitech has a sleek addition to add to mum’s desk with this portable Pebble Mouse. It’s a modern and sleek mouse that fits into your lifestyle wherever you go, perfect for throwing into your handbag when you need to work remotely. This slim mouse comes in three pretty colours to suit any personality off-white, graphite and rose pink.

Cherishing the memories

You may not be able to have a photo shoot to mark the special day, but why not book one for the future? Robyn Davie Family Lifestyle Photography is running a promotion on the most exquisite photo books that would make an incredible gift, or book a shoot for a future date with Kate Rankin Photography.

Happy Mothers Day to all mother figures out there and up in Heaven. 2020 is certainly one for the books, so lets make the most out of every moment!

Bring On The Clean – With Housewife’s Cleaning Products

Bring On The Clean – With Housewife’s Cleaning Products

Let’s face it, lockdown has pretty much brought out the inner “Martha Stewart” in us all. Whether its baking, cleaning or DIY-ing, we have all focused on things we usually wouldn’t have time to do ourselves. For a large portion of South African’s, that includes cleaning.

Now more then ever we are more focused on keeping things clean and hygienic, with an uncertain economy we are all more cost conscious but we also need to focus on supporting local. Enter Housewife’s Cleaning Products. A proudly South African brand that produces a full range of cleaning products, from a braai and grill cleaner, all the way through to a “spot stain remover”. It’s a proven fact that cleaning helps to curb anxiety, and with products that are so affordable, we can all get in on it!

I was sent the range to review pre-lockdown and over the past 40 days, I have been testing them throughout my home. There are a few “hero” products in the range that I would certainly recommend to anyone who is unsure where where to start.

Firstly the super economical, lemon scented, Housewife’s Dishwashing liquid, compares strongly to leading brands. Trust me, my sink has been used multiple times a day throughout this period and I have really been impressed with how long this lasted. The Thick Bleach is another winner and I use it on my toilets and down the drains to keep them fresh and deodorised. The Multi Purpose Cleaner is a fantastic all round surface cleaner and I have been using this on counter tops and bathroom basins. Our floors have been mopped daily (actually sometimes multiple times a day) with both the Floor and Tile Cleaner as well as the Pine Gels (my favourite being the lavender).

Pine Gel has a bit of a “bad rep” in South Africa, for being a “cheaper” or a more “low budget” cleaning product, but I challenge this. When diluted to the right ratio, it creates a wonderful floor cleaning agent with minimum wastage and no residue and is an incredibly versatile multi-purpose cleaner. Housewife’s pine gel creates a wonderful foam, which for some reason always leaves me with a sense of satisfaction. Talking about floors, Housewife’s Carpet Cleaner is also on my #itsrecommends list.

Lastly, I also highly recommend the Grill and Braai Cleaner, having tested this on my most stubborn, grease riddled grills. Leave them to soak overnight and in the morning you’ll have a grill that looks new!

Overall, I have largely been impressed with this extensive range of cleaning products, seriously, they literally have every room and every appliance in your house covered. They even offer a range of luxury hand wash and bubble bath, so after burning all those calories cleaning, treat yourself to some me time with a bubble bath!

Housewife’s cleaning products are available through selected retailers, including Spar, PicknPay and OK Stores.

GIVEAWAY

I’m giving away a full range of Housewife’s cleaning products for you to try out yourself! Head on over to my Instagram page, and make sure you are following Housewife’s on social media to enter!

Ramadan Meals – Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

Ramadan Meals – Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

We are well into the Islamic Month of Ramadan, a holy month where Muslims around the world fast for a full month. From pre-dawn to sunset, no food or drink is consumed and we take the time to reflect, to pray, to help those in need and to show gratitude for what we have. Personally, this Ramadan means more to me then ever before.

Each family, each culture have their own unique dishes that form part of Ramadan. From Suhoor (the meal before dawn), to Iftaar (the breaking of the fast) each home has their own special traditions. Over the next week, I’ll be showing you three easy Instant Pot dishes to create, that we feature during this month. Typically we look more towards foods that hydrate and don’t take long to make, such as soups. You will always find some on our table. I’ve featured some of our favourites like Chicken and Vegetable and butternut before, and will certainly be sharing two more favourites over the next week. Cooking soups in the Instant Pot is a breeze!

For now, let’s focus on the Pulao/Pilaf. Not quite a Biryani, but a close enough “cousin”. This is a super quick and easy mid week meal, and I have made mine with de-boned chicken thighs to make it even easier! This Instant Pot Chicken Pulao recipe requires just 15 minutes of prep work and results in flavourful chicken and wonderfully soft rice.

I have yet to master my mum in law’s Pilaf, every time I try to make it my husband says its not the right way, so I adapted my own and call it something different 🙂 The kids ate two big servings of this, so to me, that’s a winner!

A few tips:

  • Don’t forget to remove all whole spices before serving!
  • Your cook time may vary depending on the quality of rice you use.
  • Use a small size salad tomato to prevent any “soggyness”.

Instant Pot Chicken Pulao

A quick and easy mid week meal that is packed full of flavour. This Instant Pot Chicken Pulao recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and results in flavourful chicken and perfectly cooked rice.
Cook Time21 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chicken and Rice, Chicken Pilaf, Chicken Pulao, Instant Pot Chicken Pilaf, Ramadan Meals
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Basmati Rice
  • 500 grams boneless chicken thighs or fillets
  • 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Cardamom pods bruised
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1-2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies (whole or sliced)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • small pinch of saffron dissolved in a little water
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • oil/ghee to fry

Instructions

  • Wash the rice and soak it in water for about 15 minutes. Then drain.
  • Select the sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add the oil, ghee, and onion. Sauté, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown. Deglaze the pan with a little water. You want your onions nice and golden because it will colour your rice.
  • Add the spices, garlic, and ginger and sauté for another minute until fragrant. Add the chicken and ¼ tsp of salt and fry until the chicken changes colour. Add the tomato and chili and sauté until the tomato softens.
  • Add in the rice, salt, and water and stir to combine. Scrape the sides of the pot and make sure all the rice is submerged in water.
  • Switch of saute setting and secure the lid, set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Pressure-cook on high setting for 6 minutes with a natural release of 15 minutes. Then manually release any remaining pressure by moving the Pressure Release to Venting. Fluff up with a fork.
  • Sprinkle the cilantro/mint over the top and serve with raita made of yoghurt, coriander, chilli.
Ramadan Activity Pack For Children

Ramadan Activity Pack For Children

It’s that time of year again, the holy month of Ramadan. We are pulling out our Ramadan Calendar and creating a special corner for all things festive.
Ramadan is a chance for us to improve ourselves, to be thankful for what we’ve been given and to show generosity and kindness to others. This year it’s certainly taking a new course, with the majority of South African’s spending it in lock-down, Taraweeh will be spent at home due to Corona virus.

In previous years we have created a little Ramadan corner, where we keep all our books, arts and crafts and activities for the boys. While we craft, alot, it’s not always possible to sit down with the boys to do something with them and seeing as thought this year we will be home bound a bit more, I wanted an activity pack to keep them busy. You can find a list here with some of our favourite activities to teach children about Ramadan as well as the values so important to us.

You can find out more about some of our favourite Ramadan Traditions here, as well as a list of our favourite books here.

I’ve been working on a printable activity pack for you. It’s an ever growing resource and i’ll add to it as the years and months go by, but it’s a starting point, and I hope that it can bring joy to children around the world. There are 10 easy to do activities for children up to the age of about 7.

Download your Free Ramadan Activity Pack here.

Ramadan Mubarak Everyone! I hope you find this pack useful. If you print it out and use it please feel free to share amongst the community, and tag me in your pictures!

The Only 3 Ingredients You’ll Ever Need To Clean Your House

The Only 3 Ingredients You’ll Ever Need To Clean Your House

What if I told you that you would only ever need 3 things to clean your house?

Ok, apart from a good dish-washing liquid, with three simple ingredients, you can pretty much clean your entire house, top to toe.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cleaning products, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, oven cleaner, floor cleaner, stovetop, window… you get my drift, the amount of products avaliable can all get a little overwhelming right? At a time where money is getting tighter and trips to the shops may not be as frequent, with these three things (and a bit of salt), you can get by.

  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Lemon
AdobeStock

Bicarbonate of Soda

An all around “freshener” and fantastic abrasive, this is a MUST have in every cleaning cupboard. We use it everywhere, not just for cleaning but for activities with the kids, to make scrubs for the bath, the possibilities are endless. Just SOME of its uses include:

  • Eliminate all fridge odours by keeping a little open in the fridge on the back shelf.
  • Remove grease from baking sheets – Make a little paste out of vinegar and bicarb and scrub.
  • Keep your mattresses fresh – sprinkle baking soda directly onto mattress to remove any dirt/moisture. Click here for a tutorial, under home hacks.
  • Keep mustiness at bay by popping a little into your cupboard or drawers.
  • Freshen up your flowers by adding a teaspoon of baking soda at the bottom of the vase.
  • Polish your own silver – one of the most popular hacks that I’ve done! Baking soda and hot water are miracle workers when it comes to shining your silver, you can check our hack here. It makes the most amazing “science” experiment for kids too.
  • Clean your bowl, by scrubbing a 2/1 ratio of baking soda and olive oil, you can leave your toilet bowl as shiny as new.
  • Clean your oven – again, by creating a paste out of baking soda and vinegar, rub it into your oven and leave to sit overnight. A simple wipe down with a cloth in the morning will have your own looking like new.
  • Clean your sink – Wet the sink, sprinkle baking soda over the surface, and scrub, then rinse. Use a soft brush and the same paste on the rim. Line the sink with paper towels that you’ve soaked in white vinegar. Leave them there for 20 minutes.
  • Relieve your itch. For insect bites, mix baking soda with a little water and rub onto bites, rashes from ivy etc. The number of times my mum used this on me growing up.
Shutterstock

White Vinegar

  • Dustbin deodoriser – Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into dustbin to help absorb odours.
  • Freshen up and clean your kitchen drain by throwing some baking soda down the pipes and then flush it with white vinegar.
  • Soften and freshen your laundry – With Vinegar? Yes I have tried this, and it is true ! You won’t have vinegar scented towels either. Simply add a cup into your wash water, it softens the water and you will see the world of difference in your towels.
  • Clean your shower head – tie a bag filled with vinegar to your shower head to remove any limescale build up. Leave it to soak overnight for any hard to remove stains.
  • Clean your carpet – Remove carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, and then vacuum to remove. For tougher stains you can add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture.
  • Clean your dishwasher – Similar to the shower head, vinegar works a wonder to remove any build up of detergent or water residue. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into your dishwasher and run on empty with hot water.
  • Wash your windows – Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water to keep your windows streak free.
  • Battling with mosquitoes? Use the same window cleaning mixture to spray around window frames where mosquitoes may enter through. We have done this a few times and I am convinced I noticed a difference. It supposedly works against ants too.
  • Shine your glassware – My mum used to own a hiring company and swore by this – by adding a cup of vinegar to your wash water your glasses will sparkle!
  • Clean your grout – By mixing cornstarch, bicarb of soda and yep, vinegar – you can create the most amazing paste to clean the grout in between tiles.
  • Descale your kettle – we all love fancy glass kettles, but the limescale build up on the element can be unsightly. Pour in some white vinegar and leave to sit, or boil the vinegar up a few times to remove the build up. Just remember to rinse your kettle thoroughly afterwards 🙂
  • Make your own kitchen cleaner – By mixing citrus peel (or some essential oils) and vinegar and leaving it to sit for about a week, you can make a great all purpose cleaner. We haven’t tried this yet but its something my Gran used to do when they lived on a farm.

Lemon

  • Scrub your wooden chopping boards – Cut a lemon in half and run across your wooden chopping boards with some sea salt. It cleans any grease or dirt on your wooden board and leaves it smelling wonderful!
  • Clean your microwave – Chuck some lemons into a bowl of water and pop it into the microwave to steam. Wipe down the steam once complete.
  • Clean your cast iron pots – This worked wonders, lemon is the most ingredient thing to remove rust. Rub sea salt and half a lemon all over your pan to clean. Rinse and make sure you dry and oil your pans to prevent any future build up.
  • Taps – There is nothing like a shiny, streak free tap. Cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the tap, finish by wiping it down with a clean, microfibre cloth.

There you have it! With these 3 essential items you can literally spring clean your home. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to go “all natural”, I use day to day cleaning products just like everyone else, but working together with some of these things has made my life a lot easier and I hope it does for you too!

Instant Pot Dhal

Instant Pot Dhal

This warm, comforting Dhal is the perfect recipe for a pick me up. We are definitely in a time of uncertainly, and while a large portion of South Africans have already started to “social distance” themselves, the reality is that this hasn’t even started to hit us yet! The main of social distancing is to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading, so if that means us not going into the grocery store, so be it. We’ve stocked up on pantry essentials, but are we used to cooking with them?

I bet my husband is secretly thanking my “Zimbabwe ways” now. You see my parents grew up in a war situation. Commodities were hard to come by and you had to learn to do what you could with the basics. So I grew up with frozen butter in the freezer and the pantry was always stocked with the basics, every item of food was saved and rehashed into another meal, so nothing was wasted. It just makes you realise how much food is typically wasted.

Together with Instant Pot, I’ll be focusing on some pantry essential meals over this next month.

Lets start by looking at my one go to. Lentils. Dried lentils can keep for years in a packet and are rich in iron and folate and an excellent source of protein. Dhal used to take a good hour or so to cook on the stove, with constant supervision to make sure it doesn’t burn. Cooking Dhal in my Instant Pot had honestly revolutionised the way I make it, and I will never do stove top again!

You can choose to add meat, or cook them plain, but very few ingredients are needed for a good dhaal. Some onion, grated tomato and spices are your core base.

When cooking in the Instant Pot, just remember to add enough water, otherwise the “burn” function will kick in.

Let me know your thoughts, but I guarantee once you try Dhal in your IP, you’ll never cook it any other way!

Instant Pot Dhal

In times when we are relying more on pantry essentials, this Dhal made in an Instant Pot, is quicker then ever to cook.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: dhal, dhal and rice, instant pot, instant pot dhal, pantry essentials
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Instant Pot
  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Onion finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups red lentils (oil dhal)
  • 1 Medium chicken (cut into pieces)
  • 1 cinnamon Stick
  • 2 cardamom Pods
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 3 grated tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 whole green chilli (slit)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cumin/coriander mix

Instructions

  • Marinade chicken with ginger/garlic masala
  • Switch your Instant Pot onto Saute mode.
  • Braise your sliced onion in oil, with cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and whole slit chilli, cardamom pods
  • Add in your 1.5 cups red lentils
  • Add in your spices : salt, red chilli powder, cumin/coriander mix, tumeric
  • Add in your grated tomatoes
  • Add in your chicken pieces
  • Pour over approx 2.5 cups of water, and make sure there is no dhal stuck on the bottom, otherwise the "burn" function will come up.
  • Set to pressure cook for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute natural release.
  • Open the lid and de-bone any chicken if need be. If you prefer your dhal smoother (we do), you can blend it a little with a hand blender.
  • Serve with some thin sliced, cripsy potatoes (aloo fry), rice and some kachumber (cucumber, onion, tomato and coriander)
School Routine And Themes during COVID-19

School Routine And Themes during COVID-19

Following on from my blog yesterday on “At Home Activities” to keep the kids busy during our “social distancing”, a number of you asked about routines and structures. I’ve seen a couple of great timetables around on the internet, but I personally wanted to keep mine as close to our South African school day as possible.

I’ve designed an easily printable version of our typical timetable, this is also scheduled around my usual breaks with work. I can leave them to get on with activities, and then set up a new one when I normally take a break. I think we all have to just learn to be a lot more flexible with this new normal and cherish the time we have together. I’ve also created 5 “themed” weeks, for me personally, this is a life saver in terms of planning. So download and read on, and I hope this can help you in some way.

Preparation and Themes

Trust me when I say, this is for your own sanity! With a little bit of forward planning and foresight, your days will be a lot easier. If you can print out activity packs ahead of time (I’ll give you a list of my favourite resources at the end), and prepare any sensory activities or mini worlds the night before. Working with a theme every week helps to tie in an activities, and it assists in learning. I’ve tried to keep mine aligned with a preschool/kindergarten curriculum, however, my eldest is in Grade 1 and he still repeats some of these themes.

Weekly Themes:

1. Autumn

  • Ideas: Create an Autumn leaf sensory tray.
  • Art: Create an Autumn Leaf collage from leaves picked up during a walk outdoors
  • Fine Motor: Grab some paper and some crayons and do some leaf/bark shading
  • Create a “Hand print tree” cutting out (practise those cutting skills) an outline of their hand print on different coloured card.
  • Read: “We’re going on a leaf hunt” by Steve Metzger

2. The Ocean

  • Ideas: Create an Ocean layer sensory tray. Use sensory materials such as rice or jello to depict the different layers of the ocean, and talk about what type of fish and underwater creatures are found at various layers.
  • Art: Create a DIY Jellyfish out of paper plates and string.
  • Re-purpose recyclables to create ocean creatures (plastic bags into jelly fish etc).
  • Sea Salt Art.
  • Create some “trapped fish” in ice and let them work to release the animals from the ice.
  • Create an Ocean scene out of cardboard.
  • Cut out the shape of a fish and using bubble wrap, paint the scales on a fish.
  • Create an underwater sensory bottle.
  • Gross Motor: Practice the “Crab Walk”.

3. Lifecycle of a Plant/ Garden

  • Gross Motor: Go on a nature walk and see how many types of flowers/plants you can identify.
  • Math activities – cutting out flower shapes and using paper clips as leaves, count the number of leaves on the flower.
  • Cut some kitchen roll holder/toilet paper rolls into sections and use them to “layer” different parts of the flower.
  • Fine Motor: Pressed flowers.
  • Grow some seeds.
  • Create a garden potion.

4. Wildlife

  • Create an “African” themed sensory tray.
  • Identify and separate the animals into herbivores and carnivores (explain the difference). Let your child put the animals into the correct “habitat”
  • Create some binoculars out of toilet roll and hide some animals around the house/garden. Create a scavenger hunt safari where your children have to find the animals.
  • Talk about the Big 5.
  • Make a giraffe hand-print.
  • Make a lion out of paper plates and pasta.
  • Read: How the Cheetah got its tears by Avril Van der Merwe, how the Zebra got its stripes by Justine Fontes

5. The Five Senses – This can sometimes be a long one, so don’t worry if it goes over a week.

  • Hearing – Make your own music shakers and rain makers.
  • Blindfold them and get them to follow a course by listening to your voice.
  • Smell – Scented Paint activity (add oils or juices into different coloured paints)
  • Create lavender or coffee scented play-dough
  • Homemade paint with spices and seasoning (turmeric, cloves, cinnamon etc)
  • Touch – Make some oobleck or slime, talk about how it feels in your hands.
  • Create a Mystery bag, throw some items into a draw string bag and get them to guess what they are.
  • Create a Texture Tray with off cuts of material. Get the children to describe how it feels.
  • Sight – Play a game of I-Spy.
  • Hide Objects around the room and get the children to find them with a magnifying glass.
  • Taste – Create a Mystery taste tray, blindfold them and give them something sweet, salty, sour etc and try to identify what it is.
  • Apple Test – Get 3 types of apple (red, yellow, green) – children should taste them and distinguish the different flavours.
  • Bake something – Bake some cookies or muffins.

To summarise all 5 senses do the “Popcorn” test – “LOOK at the kernals, LISTEN to them pop, SMELL the delicious aroma, use your sense of TOUCH to fill your bag and finally TASTE the delicious popcorn that you made.

There are some fantastic online resources to guide you for activities, and most of them offer free printables. Some of my favourites are:

https://www.twinkl.co.za/

https://theimaginationtree.com/

https://www.preschoolthemes.co.za/

https://playtolearnpreschool.us/

Champagne Castle Hotel Review

Champagne Castle Hotel Review

It has it all.

Visual impact, luxury of years gone by, activities to entertain everyone, and enough food to feed the pre-slimmed down Royal Family 🙂 We were even blessed with the beautiful Drakensberg “mist” that added to the charm of our stay, giving it an ethereal feel.

Champagne Castle Hotel is pretty close to being an ultimate experience. There is no better hotel positioned with more dramatic and immediate views of the Drakensberg than this one, you are literally in the heart and center. We arrived when it was misty which actually made it even more magical. As the mist lifted you just saw more and more incredible mountains and peaks around you.

Self Catering Chalets

Accomodation

As this is a family blog I’m going to focus from a family point of view first, though if you are looking for a hotel that boasts it all for the more discerning guests, then you have certainly found it here as well. If you are looking to book for a family, you have two options. The deluxe family rooms which are 6 double-storey family rooms, with each having a patio and balcony.

Deluxe Family Rooms at the Hotelh

You can also choose the self catering house, which we did, as we went with a bunch of friends and it allowed us more space to “take over”. The family rooms have a upstairs and downstairs bedrooms each with an en-suite bathroom off the room. Whilst the self catering houses have up to 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and a lounge with a fireplace. I’m pretty sure they were bigger then my own house and had a fully equipped kitchen, complete with high chairs for the little ones. They were heavenly and from what I understand, a bit more “modern” then some of the hotel rooms. The hotel itself is old but the self catering chalets were added on afterwards, so they have newer finishes to them.

 The Food

If you stay in the hotel then breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus morning and afternoon tea are all included in your stay, except of course, for the self-catering chalets. So if eating and drinking is your thing, then you have scored big time. There is always something on offer, so best to make use of those walking trails to burn all the excess calories off.

Breakfasts include cereals, fruits, and yoghurts to cooked options and continental ones, without forgetting the ever popular pastries, waffles, and pancakes.

The hotel also has two lounges, one casual and one a bit more formal which is an adults only lounge. No shorts are allowed in the dining room after 6 pm. I have to say, this may annoy some people, but for me personally, with 3 young kids I can fully appreciate this. “Old school” rules are actually sometimes nice and people appreciate them. It adds a bit of elegance.

There is no shortage of selection in terms of food, with options from soups and breads, cooked meats, vegetarian, pasta, fish, roasted veggies, accompanied by a whole host of divine desserts and cheeses. We stayed self catering so didn’t personally dine there but from what I have heard the staff in the dining room are exceptional.

The Activities

This is what I rank a “family” resort on. The availability of activities to do, not only for the kids, but for mum and dad too. It doesn’t have to be purely within the hotel boundaries, but near enough to enjoy. Champagne castle has an incredible animal farm for children to explore. Chickens, rabbits, ducks, goats and ducks; petting farms are always a winner with younger kids. They also have stables on site and you can choose from a walk around the paddock for your kids to more advanced rides through the mountain trails. This applies for residents and day visitors to the hotel as well.

They also have an aviary towards the back of reception. I’ll be honest though, this needed a bit of work and seems to have been a bit neglected. Though we did spot a tortoise and some colourful birds, but it didn’t overwhelm us at all.

Growing up I remember always running to check out a resorts “playroom” and I still get excited when I see hotels that advertise them. I think it’s a charm of years gone by and I love that the boys are at the age now where they really enjoy a game of pool or table tennis. The hotel has a playroom, although again, its in desperate need of a bit of an update. There’s table tennis, a pool table and a lounge area for board games to keep up the entertainment if the weather outside is miserable. There is no shortage of outdoor activities either, the pool, tennis and badminton courts, volleyball, lawn bowls, giant chess, a jungle gym and well as a dam to fish. It really does cater to everyone’s needs. Let’s not forget that the majority of guests do come to do a little hiking in the pristine countryside.

The entertainment room is in need of a little update
Beautiful outdoor chess set

The hotel offers guided walks at 09.15 every morning, with a return promised before lunch. Maps and routes are also available from reception should you wish to do a self guided walk, though I’m not sure if I trust my sense of direction.

Swimming Pool with a view

Sadly I didn’t get a chance to check out the spa facilities, but fully intend on maximizing on this for our next stay. (Yes, I would return in a heartbeat).

The surrounding area has no shortage of activities either;

  • The Drakensberg Canopy Tour is a fun adventure for the whole family.
  • Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Center is right next door to the hotel.
  • There is no shortage of golf courses in the area, both a 9 hole as well as an 18.
  • Champagne castle Adventure Centre is within about 5 minutes of the hotel and offers team activities such as archery, abseiling, paintball, river rafting, zip-lining and quad-biking as well as a younger kids area (3-7).
  • Explore some of the beautiful home industry bakeries

My focus for the last 2 years has been on finding local places for our family to travel, finding locations across South Africa that are affordable, and family friendly with activities and amenities for the whole family to enjoy in comfort. If you are looking for a great weekend away, then Champagne Castle Hotel ticks all of these boxes and then some.

If you are looking for a truly magical weekend away, less than 4 hours from Johannesburg, Champagne Castle Hotel is magical. There are other hotels nearby that may cater more for children, but for us, and our children, Champagne Castle Hotel was perfect. It was particularly misty when we were there, which just added to the magical charm. With the horses grazing in the paddocks, overlooked by the giant mountain peaks,  I felt like I was walking through a storybook.

Finding Romance In Rome

Finding Romance In Rome

With its beautiful cobbled streets, historical fountains, picturesque piazza’s and grand monuments, Rome is without a doubt one of the most romantic destinations in the world. That’s not a word that gets used often on this page, “romantic”. It gets put on the back burner with 3 kids and 2 careers. Everyone had their own unique “love language” and mine are actions and travel. Travel… ahhhh… something else that has been put on the back burner since the arrival of our little munchkins.

Italy is an absolute must-visit country and undoubtedly, one of the most travelled to destinations in Europe, with so many unique highlights in one country, you certainly need more then one trip. I still haven’t touched the beautiful Tuscan Countryside, or the most romantic canals of Venice, but I have done the picturesque, cobblestones streets of Rome and the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

Positano is the absolute gem of the Amalfi Coast and is undoubtedly one of the most charming, romantic towns in Italy. The views are what storybooks are made of (literally), and it is well worth taking 3 days to visit if you go to Italy, but lets leave that for its own blog. Here I want to focus on Rome, and my top romantic must see’s in this historical city. (I’ll take you there one day soon baby, I promise).

If you are going to visit Rome, I would recommend at least 3 full days. You could do it in two but allow for three to fully appreciate every single inch of history this cultural haven has to offer.

Where to stay:

Rome has no shortage of accommodation. My one piece of advice would be to choose something central, where it is easy to walk between the historical sites. Be careful though, the further “in” you go, the more pricey they become. Every time I have gone to stay in Rome, I stay in the same hotel, its right up the street from the Colosseum and a fairly easy walk to most landmark sites as well as the train station. The Grande Hotel Palatino, on Via Cavour. It’s not the fanciest, but its 4 star, is in an awesome location and has a certain “Ritz” feel. It’s also right across the street from a beautiful Basicilia that has the most incredible statue, Mosè di Michelangelo.

As you stroll through the postcard streets, these are some of my “must visit” landmarks:

Visit to the Colosseum

Seemingly obvious, but I had to include it. If you really are interested in seeing inside and learning the history it is absolute worth joining a tour. You can wait a little longer but I don’t regret this for one minute. Standing tall and proud next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, you can’t miss it. It is one of the largest of Rome’s ancient triumphal arches. It celebrates Emperor Constantine the Great’s victory and the battle that made Christianity the religion of Rome.

Stroll through the Roman Forum

Visit the Roman Forum – The “excavated heart” of the City. You can literally feel the history in every corner. The Trajan markets were the first “multi level shopping ‘Mall’” in the world. The views in the Roman Forum are absolutely breathtaking and you can imagine what the city looked like in all its glory.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill houses the ruins of the Imperial palaces. It is one of the most ancient parts of the city and still has the beautiful gardens and fragments of all the ancient wealth.

Trevi Fountain

You didn’t think I would miss out on one of my favourite landmarks do you? No trip to Rome is complete without tossing a coin into this majestical beauty. You should prioritise this for first thing in the morning, or later in the evening to get a good view and avoid the crowds. It’s far too busy midday so plan your day around it. After making your wish, stop by one of the local gelato stores to indulge in some authentic Italian ice cream.

The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica

Starting to see why I say three days now? Plan an entire morning for the Vatican and once again, GET THERE EARLY! We went first thing and didn’t regret it for a second. St Peter’s Basilica opens at 7am so you can start there and move onto the breathtaking Sistine chapel which houses Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Once again, I would recommend joining a tour group for this one. The knowledge that you gain is worth every cent, you can always peel off if it doesn’t suit your fancy, but we found it very valuable.

Watch the Sunset from Capitoline Hill

At the end of your day visit the historic Piazza del Campidoglio, which is considered to be one of Romes most beautiful squares. If you go around the back of the central building you can get the most beautiful city top panorama, with all the domes and Colosseum in the background. It is truly breathtaking.

Sign the Register at the Pantheon

The only ancient Roman temple to survive almost completely intact, this is one absolute must see! Take in the incredible stature of the building from the piazza before heading inside and staring in awe at the height and architecture of the building.

Piazza del Popolo

No trip to Rome is complete without a bit of “people watching”, and Piazza del Popolo or “the peoples square” is perfect for this. Grab a cappuccino and take in the sights. Always be careful of pickpockets!

Have a seat on the Spanish Steps

Would it be a romantic list without the “lovers steps”? Set in the beautiful Piazza Della Spagna, the fountains, buildings and ambience make it such a buzzing place to be with your loved one. In summer beautiful bougainvillea cascade down the steps, it’s the perfect spot to sit and have some gelato after indulging in a little shopping on Via dei Condotti.

The Tiber River

This river defines the city of Rome. Take a stroll along its banks along the beautiful St. Angelo Bridge as you literally walk through history. There are some fabulous cafes along it where you can enjoy a sundowner or coffee with your lover while watching the sun set across the ancient city.

Source

Get Lost!

I had to add this one in there, because this is how I first “stumbled” across the Trevi Fountain, by “getting lost” along the tiny cobbled streets. It’s the best way to find the most authentic restaurants and traditional Italian shops minus the touristy stuff. With your map in hand you can be certain you will find your way again at some point.

If you need a quick escape from the hustle of the city, hop on the train to check out Sperlonga Beach. It is about an hour train ride from Rome and makes the perfect day trip. Its sandy beaches and crystal clear shallow waters make the perfect refresher after 3 days exploring the city.

If you are looking for the perfect romantic trip for you and your partner, or in my opinion, the perfect babymoon then Italy is one of your safest bets. I wouldn’t rush to take young kids to Rome, but I long to roam the streets hand in hand with my hubby. Travelstart has some incredible deals on trips to Rome, check out https://www.travelstart.co.za

Whats good to know:

Credit Cards and ATMs: Keep small cash handy for things like street souveniurs, on the go cafe lattes or gelato, but most of the tour operators and cafes accept foreign credit cards.

Electricity: European standards, so I would definitely recommend taking a travel adaptor.

Safety: Italy is generally a safe destination. However be on the look out for pickpockets and “gypsy” beggars. Mainly around the busier Piazza’s.

Getting Around: Rome is incredibly easy to walk around and there are loads of scooters to hire if you are brave enough to as well. If you venture a bit further, I loved travelling by train and it also makes you feel a little more “local” 🙂 It also gives you the opportunity to sit back and relax as you cross the beautiful countryside.

*This blog post was written in collaboration with TravelStart

** All photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise, and are subject to copyright.

***PPS: Cobbled streets? Not so great for the stilettos 🙂

Mid Week Instant Pot Meals

Mid Week Instant Pot Meals

My choice of a midweek meal has to be something that is quick, tasty and require minimal effort on my end. This selection are speedy, delicious and super easy to make. Family friendly meals designed to be on the table in record time.

You see, my evenings go a little like this “aaaaahhhhhhhhhh” (picture Macauly Caulkin screaming in home alone). If I’m working in the office I get home after 4pm, to 3 children all demanding attention in some way. A baby that wants milk and love, and two boys that are eager to tell me about their days and what they did. I listen and try to connect but I know in the back of my mind I need to decide what to make for dinner asap.

I wish I was one of those people who could decide the night before what to make, but I’m not. It’s almost always a last minute decision on what meat to take out the freezer. Anyone else relate? By 5 pm the prep work needs to start. Baby gets her dinner at 5h30 pm and then its bath and bed time around 6h30 pm for her. That gives me about an hour max to sort dinner out as the rest of us normally eat between 6h30 or 7 at the latest. Safe to say I am ALWAYS looking for quick, tasty, easy meals that can get onto the table in without fuss.

Instant Pot really has changed the way we eat. It has also changed WHAT we eat, with things like stews and dhaal made in record time. These three recipes are on constant rotation in our home, I know they work and I know they are tasty.

Rotisserie style Roast Chicken

You may have seen me mention this one on my “Insta stories”, but 35 minutes (and natural release time), is all you need to create the most juicy, tender, fall off the bone chicken. You will never make your chicken another way again.

It is so versatile, and has so many variations. Serve it on its own or with roast vegetables,  I chuck veg into mine to make a hidden veg gravy at the end. It’s made in the Instant Pot completely from beginning to end, with a quick sear on both sides to create that beautiful golden colour.

Instant Pot Roast Chicken

35 minutes to the most succulent, tender Roast Chicken you have ever had. Instant Pot Whole Chicken is juicy, tender and incredibly easy to make. Add your vegetables to the bottom of the Pot for a complete one pot meal in under an hour.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: chicken, instant pot, roast chicken

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 Free Range Whole Chicken
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • Vegetables of choice

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika, garlic and onion powder with a little olive oil. Rub onto the chicken skin and in the cavity.
  • Set your Instant Pot to the high sauté setting, add a little oil and brown chicken on both sides, about 4-5 minutes a side.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Place your metal trivet in the bottom and add chicken stock. Place your veggies (if adding) in the bottom and place the chicken back on top. Select Manual, change pressure to high and set time for 35 minutes. Natural release for approx. 10-15 minutes (while you are prepping your sides).
  • If you prefer a super crispy skin, you may choose to grill it for another 5 minutes, but it is perfectly fine without it. Use the remaining sauce at the bottom, together with the soft veg to create your gravy.
  • Serve with Vegetables of your choice.

Now lets move onto my next “go to” recipe. It’s a winner across any household, and always a firm favourite with kids.

Spaghetti Bolognese

My love affair with Italy knows no bounds. I’m obsessed , and dream of the next time I can return. Any chef knows that a secret to a good Bolognese or Ragu is to cook the mince for hours on a slow, steady stove top. Definitely no time for that mid week! My kids could live off pasta, so bolognese (with as many veg as I can sneak in) is always a winner. When I first heard of “one pot” spaghetti bolognese I was a little more than dubious. The idea of the pasta cooking in the same pot? I wasn’t sold. But this is a game changer! The pasta comes out perfectly “al dente” and absorbs all the delicious flavour.

Instant Pot Spagetthi Bolognese

This classic family favourite just got a little easier! Flavour packed bolognese sauce (with as many hidden vegetables as you can squeeze in) and tender spaghetti noodles cook beautifully in the Instant Pot®, all in one pot. In under 15 minutes!

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time9 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Instant Pot Spaghetti, One pot pasta, pasta, Spaghetti, spaghetti bolognese

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Lean Steak Mince
  • 1 tin Crushed Tomatoes
  • 500 grams Passata Sauce
  • 1 Onion finely diced
  • 2 Carrots finely diced
  • 2 Baby Marrow (or Celery) finely diced
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 1 tsp Green Chilli
  • 1 tsp Crushed Garlic
  • 2 tsp Italian Herbs

Instructions

  • Set your Instant Pot to Sauté Mode. Add in some Olive Oil and brown your mince together with garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Set aside browned mince.
  • Sauté onion, carrot, baby marrow together with garlic, celery salt, pepper and chilli until soft.
  • Add browned mince back in, together with tomatoes and passata sauce.
  • Break spaghetti in half and place on top of mince, add in one cup of water.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes (depending on your preference) on high pressure with a quick release.
  • Voila! Questa Pasta e perfetta !

Lastly we pay homage to our “Taco Tuesday” dish. I put everything out on a big platter in the middle of the table and everyone makes up their own according to their own preference.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

This shredded chicken recipe is possibly the easiest of them all and is perfect for Tacos, Nachos, Sliders. I almost feel guilty calling it a “recipe” because it is so simple to make.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! These are so incredibly easy to make and the chicken is so versatile you could create at least 4 different recipes from it.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time12 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Instant Pot Shredded Chicken, Shredded Chicken Tacos, Taco Tuesday, Tacos
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Fillets
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 2 Garlic cloves crushed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Jar Salsa (of your choice and heat intensity)
  • Tortilla's to serve
  • Guacamole to serve
  • Grated cheese to serve

Instructions

  • Place marinated chicken breast inside the Instant Pot. Add the jar of Salsa on top.
  • Seal the lid and set the pressure knob to sealing.
  • Press “Poultry” and select between 7 and 10 minutes. (Depending on size of fillet).
  • Quick release and then shred the chicken breasts with two forks. Add back into sauce. You may want to saute it a little to thicken up the sauce, but it's completely up to you.
  • Serve with toppings and garnish of your choice.

There it is! 3 incredibly easy, low fuss “mid week” meals to inspire you to get creative with your Instant Pot! I honestly find I use mine more and more every single week and it has transformed our meals.

Happy Cooking! I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Ultimate Lunchbox Tips

Ultimate Lunchbox Tips

Whether you are ready or not, the new school year is upon us, and with that approximately 197 lunch boxes to pack! Yep you read right, the average school year had 197 days in it. I don’t know about you, but I always start off the year strong, with a nice variety of options and creativity and then it dwindles with fatigue and exhaustion as the year progresses. Two heads are better then one, so “Mommalikeme” and I decided to get together and write about our top lunch box ideas, some of our store bought favourites and a few hacks to make your life easier throughout the year. Be sure to check our her blog post here.

I also have two other Articles that you can refer to for inspiration, find out all about my original lunch box inspiration here and check out some healthy options here.

My kids tend to “snack” more, and between all the playing at break time, bento style boxes work better for us, so most of my boxes are smaller portions with more options.

Daily Lunchbox Inspiration

Monday

  • Pesto Pasta – I list this every year but it really is a winner with us. If your child prefers warm pasta you can buy those nifty flask type containers that keep your food warm as well.
  • Nectarine
  • Yoghurt Pot
  • Biltong Strips

Tuesday

  • “Deconstructed Pita” – Basically Pita Bread with some Meatballs, Hummus and Cucumbers served separately.
  • Grapes and Berries
  • Carrots
  • Nut Muffin

Wednesday

  • Cheese Quesadilla (I toast two tortillas in a pan with melted cheese in the middle and cut into 4.
  • Served with Avo (I have one that likes Avo and another that cant stand it, so I may omit the Avo as well)
  • Strawberries
  • Yoghurt Choobie (Yoghurt tubes from woolies)
  • Trail Mix – My kids love the one with little yoghurt drops in from woolies

Thursday

  • Chicken and Cheese Roll up Wrap
  • Watermelon
  • Mozzarella String Cheese
  • Banana Muffin – you can view my recipe for banana muffins here.
  • Berries
  • Carrots/Sugar snap peas

Friday

  • Egg Muffin Cup
  • Cheese and baby tomato skewers
  • Granola Bar
  • Apple
  • Chocolate Covered Raisins as a treat

We’ve designed an easily printable “cheatsheet” list for you. Allowing you to quickly pick out options from each of the suggested food groups to create a healthy lunch box. Grab one thing from each category and you are good to go!

Store Bought Favourites

Now lets look at some of my store bought favourites. These are lunchbox fillers that I buy to make my life easier. Some friendly on the pocket, and some are definitely more of a splurge so it just depends on how we are for the month 🙂

In no particular order:

  • Oven baked munchies (salt crackers)
  • Playful Penguins (South Africa’s answer to goldfish)
  • Granola and Nut Bars
  • Biltong/ Dry Wors
  • Yoghurt covered rice cakes
  • Cheese flavoured rice crackers
  • Fruit Bites
  • Kiddylicious Cheese Straws
  • Kiddylicious Coconut Rolls
  • Kiddylicious Fruity Bakes
  • Happy Kid Banana and Chocolate Bars
  • Trail Mixes
  • Nature Valley Granola Bars
  • Chocolate covered raisins
  • Laughing Cow cheese cubes
  • Mozzarella Cheese String
  • Yogi Choobes
  • “Oh My Goodness” Moon Melts

Lunchbox Hacks

Lastly here are some of my personal lunchbox “hacks”. Things that I do to make my mornings run as smoothly and as quickly as possible (and this is still a huge work in progress).

  1. Get your kids to “pack” their own lunches; “make a snack station”. Okay okay, my kids are a little young still, but this was a responsibility that I had from the age of about 12. So what I do is have a “snack shelf” in the pantry, where the kids can pull out their “store bought favs” from. Easily accessible they can choose what they would like to pack. If you are a little more organised then me, you could sort these into categories like proteins, fruits etc.
  2. Prepare what you can before hand– Pack all fruit, yoghurts etc the night before ready to go and on a Sunday night I normally prep what I can for the week ahead. For example; I will cook a whole bunch of drumsticks and sausages, ready to pop into lunchboxes when needed.
  3. Use Drinks as Ice packs – Freeze your water bottles and it will double up as an Ice Block in your cooler bag.
  4. Compartmentalise – if you don’t have a bento style lunchbox, use silicon muffin cases to hold and separate your foods.
  5. Use Skewers for small meats or cheese – Presenting things in a smaller, prettier way makes it more appealing for the kids to eat. I got some super cute skewers from Lily and Lace.
  6. Use Cookie or Sandwich Cutters (But don’t waste) – My pet peeve about using cookie cutters to shape bread is the amount of bread it wastes. Cloud and Co stock some awesome shapers that almost fit to size, ensuring that you don’t waste alot of the bread. I have my eye on the rocket ship!
  7. Make Use of a thermal flasks – again, Cloud and Co sell some super cute Thermal flasks which will increase what you are able to pack as lunch options.
  8. Send a little love note – Make use of pre-printed stickers like the ones from Tower Labels.

There you have it! I hope you have found these helpful and you use them in your daily planning. Don’t forget to head over to Mommalikeme for some more lunchbox inspiration!

Hot Wheels Friction Car Review

Hot Wheels Friction Car Review

A few weeks ago we were sent some Hot Wheels Friction cars to test out and review. The boys have been avid hot wheels fanatics since the day they learnt they could push a car and we have gotten creative in a number of ways with our smaller die cast toys. I’ll be honest though, as they get older, they are leaning more towards bigger cars and cars with “special features” so I jumped at the chance when I heard about these.

The Hot Wheels Friction Car features light effects, realistic sounds and all of the quality you would expect from a brand such as Hot Wheels. In comes in an assortment of 3 different colours and takes 3xAG13 batteries. There is always something so magical about Hot Wheel cars.

So what did we think?

I love that Hot Wheels are creating bigger cars and are diversifying more than the traditional “die cast collectables” and race tracks. The cars have an awesome friction system that moves by pressing it down and back. The boys had a blast racing each other along the corridors and the cars even do a cool “drift” thing and turn around. According to Yusuf, he likes the sound the best and according to Aadam, he likes the “speed and lights”. In terms of age range, they would be perfectly suited for 3-4 year olds. The features are basic enough for younger kids to play with. They are incredibly hardy and wont break easily, trust me, my boys tested them against the walls and stairs!

What’s in the box?
1 x Hot Wheels friction car with lights and sound.

We also got sent a Hot Wheels – Friction Asst. This doesn’t require any batteries and is a super entry level basic friction car. It comes in 4 assorted designs, rubber wheels and a friction feature. My little one loved driving this through the sand, and because there are no batteries this one can safely be dragged through mud and water without any concern.

Price and where to buy:

These Hot Wheels are avaliable from Takealot.com, Laceys, Toys R Us and most leading retailers.

Hot Wheels Friction Car with Lights and Sound (15cm) //RSP: R120

Hot Wheels Fast machine Friction  //RSP: R400

Hot Wheels Friction Car with Lights and Sound (25CM)// RSP R230

Playing with cars isn’t just for “fun” and there are several important lessons to learn, including cause and effect, physics and friction. Not to mention a little healthy competition with racing 🙂 So if you are still looking for a Christmas present for your 3 to 6 year old car fanatic; these Hot Wheels are a pretty awesome option.

Disclaimer – We were sent these toys to review, but all opinions are my own.

Looking Back at 2019 – SA Blog Awards

Looking Back at 2019 – SA Blog Awards

WOW WOW WOW, What a year 2019 has been. Highs, lows, changes, babies, houses… At the end of each year I always like to look back on all that I have achieved and how we have grown as a family. Its so important to take a step back to recognise how far we have come.

On the blog side I have hit so many of my personal targets and worked with brands that I used to dream about. I am so incredibly grateful to you, my readers, for allowing me to grow on this journey with you. So THANK YOU THANK YOU, for supporting me and helping me to reach my dreams. I hope you have found inspiration and guidance when you needed it the most.

Once again, I have decided to enter the SA Blog Awards. I know many people have various things to say about the Blog Awards, but these awards are decided by you, the public. Its all of you who get to vote and decide. I have big dreams planned for my little happy space, and hopefully, together, we can get there. Please support me in this, by clicking on this link . I have entered into two categories, both are full of absolutely incredible bloggers and content creators, so even if I just made an appearance I’d be happy. Once voted, you will receive an email to verify your vote, which takes about 15 seconds – please do so, otherwise your vote is not verified. You can also vote by clicking on the badge on the right hand panel my home page. Voting ends on 31 December and it would mean the world to me to have your support.

Looking back at this year, we certainly received our greatest blessing with a healthy beautiful Raya Maryam being born into our family. She has completed our puzzle and is everyone’s absolute favourite being. The calm to our chaos. We have conquered and climbed the initial breastfeeding mountain and are comfortably in a routine now with solids and feeding. Mamas – the first 3 months are hell, but hang in there! It does get better! Incredibly grateful for all the support we have received and for the beautiful baby shower held by my Megan.

Aadam successfully completed grade R, and moves on up into the world of “grades” next year. He has been absolutely amazing to watch this year. From the tears and separation anxiety we battled in the beginning of the year, to literally running into school each day, he even asked to stay on for aftercare! Such huge milestones that we so quickly forget about. He excelled in his cricket and swimming and is an absolute joy to watch as he learns to write and read.

Our little Yusuf is as cheeky as ever, at 4 years old he thinks he is the boss of everyone, and if he could, he would live off cakes and sweets. Even though he acts all tough and confident, secretly he is the one whose confidence I need to build the most. He needs his mama so much still and I have tremendous guilt for not spending enough one on one time with him. He has learnt to swim like a “big boy” now, and gets hugely frustrated if his brother does something that he cant do yet.

On a personal note some of my highlights were working with some of my favourite brands, on campaigns close to my heart. Walking down the runway at 7 months pregnant with Jet; focusing on “self-love” and embracing women of all shapes and sizes. I also got to brand rep for my favourite maternity brand, Cherry Melon whose clothes I am STILL wearing, 8 months post partum! The boys got to do some “modelling” (kind of) for Keedo, a proudly South African brand that is VERY close to my heart. I am eternally grateful !

I managed to juggle the work-life thing…sometimes failing but mostly swimming. I realized that I will never be the “stepford wife” but that’s OK. It’s OK to forget things from time to time. The fact that I remembered P.E. and swimming days, what costume is needed when, charity days and afternoon activities MOST of the time, is enough for me. As long as my babies know how much their mama loves them, and as long as I raise kind, generous, hard working children – my job as a parent is done. We kept crafting this year, and had a bigger focus on more educational experiences. Learning behind what we “played” with. Some of my favourites were the “Dino Dig” Sensory tray, “Lifecycle of a frog”, Crafting with Cardboard, Outback Aussie and the collaboration we did with House of York.

We grew, not only in the number in our family, but as individuals as the boys become their own independent kids. We baked (a lot), from collaborations with Pillsbury to cookies with M&M’s we certainly got creative (and a little fatter). I also fully embraced my Instant Pot, I literally use it several times a week and enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen again!

We went farming, it wouldn’t be a year without it 🙂 From Dairy Cows to Strawberry picking, nothing makes me happier then being outdoors and in nature with the kids. We also explored the Drakensburg for the first time and I’m already yearning to go back. (Full blog post coming soon)

I ramped up our “What to do in Joburg” Series with a focus on FREE entertainment. With the economy in South Africa being the way it is, we all need a bit of relief from all the spending, and I updated our ultimate list of places to go with the kids for 2019 . As a mom to young kids these are invaluable, I know I certainly am always on the look out for new places. The latest one is on my festive entertainment guide for 2019.

Lastly, I focused a bit more on beauty (as I try to gain some of my youth back). I started exploring collagen more, and tried drinking it in a shake! I took care of my body with Bio-Oil and Natralogic and focused more on what goes into my skin, using products from Dermalogica and Skin & Tonic. I also took back my hair (take that post-partum hair loss) 🙂 Allowing myself to splurge a little is OK if it makes me feel good. Nicho from XOXO Studio certainly knows how to give my hair that va va voom. Invest in yourselves mamas, every little bit helps.

It certainly was a jam packed year and one that holds the best memories. Life is about making the most of EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. Making an impact on every single person you meet . It’s too short to be spent unhappy or complaining. Embrace the positive around you and be grateful for all that you have. That’s the main purpose of this post, Gratitude. For all the opportunities I have had, and all the new connections and friends made. For all the lessons I have learnt (some tough), and all the future that lies ahead. I also have big plans for this little blog of mine, and I hope to continue to grow and learn. If you want to , please take a look at the SA Blog awards, but more importantly; THANK YOU, for being a part of this parenting community. If there is any other content you would like, or advice you need let me know, I value you more than you know!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Instant Pot Festive Meal Ideas

Instant Pot Festive Meal Ideas

This succulent Cranberry Orange Chicken followed by a decadent white chocolate and raspberry “pot du creme”, officially signals that Holiday season has begun. No matter what you’re celebrating this year, you’ll probably end up cooking a large meal or two for your family during the holiday’s and lets face it, in Africa, with the heat of our December, the last place we want to be is sweating it out in a hot kitchen. We always had debates in my family growing up over the “traditional Christmas meals” versus something lighter due to the hot weather. We almost always ended up with a combination of both. Thankfully, with Instant Pot around, we don’t have to worry about spending hours in the kitchen anymore.

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a few Christmas periods over in the USA (and thanksgiving) and I’m proud to say I have mastered the art of succulent turkey, when people say they are dry and unflavourful I beg to disagree. My initial thought was a cranberry orange turkey, however, the Instant Pot however is a little too small to fit an entire turkey, and I certainly wasn’t going to cut off leg and wing portions (hint hint woolies, I see you have the mince now, please sell the pieces too). After some back and forth, I settled on chicken. I knew I wanted to incorporate Cranberries, and I adore the combination of cranberry and orange, it’s just so festive. Even my husband, who is not a fan of “fruit with food”, polished this off. Keep reading for the full recipe.

Mains – Orange Cranberry Chicken with a Balsamic Glaze

You’ll remember that I previously cooked a rotisserie style chicken in the Instant Pot and it is absolutely glorious. So incredibly moist that it falls off the bone, (you can see the recipe up on my Instagram highlights). The first secret to a really great chicken, my mother in law taught me this, is to use a good quality, organic free range chicken. Happy chickens are tasty chickens 🙂 I bathed this chicken in butter, balsamic glaze, freshly squeezed orange and salt and pepper. Stuff fresh rosemary under the skin and into the cavity of the chicken, along with a cup of cranberries and sliced orange. Brown the chicken on both sides by using the saute function of your Instant Pot.

Add your metal trivet stand and a cup of chicken stock into the bottom of the pot along with a big handful of baby carrots. This will not only steam your chicken but will create the most delicious gravy. Chuck in another handful of cranberries for good measure and place your chicken on top of the carrots.

Make sure the lid is closed securely and the steam vent is set to “sealed.” Select the “Poultry” button with high pressure, and a cook time of 38 minutes (dependent on the size of your bird). Finish with a natural release of about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken. If you prefer a crisper skin, which clearly we do; brush the chicken again with the balsamic butter glaze and pop it under the grill for a few minutes. The Balsamic creates the most glorious brown, crispy edge to the skin. Meanwhile remove the carrots and saute the remaining liquid, with a little cornflour to thicken up.

Decorate a serving platter with some fresh cranberries, orange slices, and rosemary, to help showcase your gorgeous Instant Pot Whole Chicken. 

Dessert – White Chocolate “Pot du Creme” topped with Raspberry Coulis

Now lets move onto the good stuff…. the dessert. A recipe so easy I literally had to good it twice to make sure I wasn’t missing something !

While my grandparents were alive, Christmas pudding was an absolute must, Christmas cake always featured as well, but the Christmas pudding “Brandy pudding”, was always set alight by my grandfather, with all the grand-kids looking on in amazement. Everyone crossed fingers that they would get “the penny”. I, however, am absolutely not a fan. There’s something about “fruit mince” that I despise (so mince pies are off the menu too), I prefer lighter, cooler dishes and trio of berries pavlova almost always features on my Christmas Menu.

I haven’t quite figured out how to do a meringue dish in my instant pot (yet), but I did keep the white and red colours going with this glorious dessert, so keep reading until the end. This is honestly the easiest dessert I have EVER made, and one that I will repeat again and again.

This recipe uses the perfect blend of rich white chocolate and fresh, bright raspberries for a simply irresistible treat. Whether it’s a hot summer day or a winter evening in front of the fire, this fabulously easy dessert is a winner.

All you have to do is blend together some white chocolate with egg yolk, lemon zest and vanilla extract and blend in some warm heavy cream to gently melt the chocolate. Divide into some ramekin dishes and pour a cup of water into the bottom of your Instant Pot. Set to 0 minutes on manual and natural release for 5 minutes. It’s a make ahead dessert so you need to refrigerate it for about 4 hours. Blitz up some raspberries to make a simple coulis to top. Sit back and watch all your guests lick their bowls 🙂

Gone are the days of long, complicated Christmas Dinners. Thankfully, with Instant Pot in hand, families can spend a little more “together time” and less time fighting about whose turn it is to do what.

Orange Cranberry Chicken

Succulent orange chicken with a delicate cranberry balsamic glaze
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time58 mins
Keyword: chicken, christmas meal, holiday meal, instant pot, orange chicken, orange cranberry chicken, roast chicken
Servings: 5 people

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Free Range Chicken
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Oranges
  • 2 cups Cranberries
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 pkt Baby carrots

Instructions

  • Empty chicken cavity, rinse chicken and pat dry.
    Season skin with Salt and Pepper. Melt about 2 big knobs of butter and mix with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the juice of one orange. Rub into the chicken skin (and under. Stuff the cavity with orange wedges, herbs and a cup of cranberries.
  • Turn on Instant Pot "Saute" function and allow to heat up. Brown chicken about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
  • Turn Instant Pot off, remove chicken. Add a cup of chicken stock into the bottom of the pot. Add in the metal trivet and add in baby carrots. Place chicken on top of carrots. Chuck in a few more cranberries for good measure.
  • Close lid and make sure steam vent is closed.Set "Poultry" function on high pressure for 38 minutes. Once cooking time is complete, natural release for about 20 minutes.
  • If you prefer a crispier skin, pop under the grill for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Meanwhile, take the remaining sauce and switch on the saute function again to thicken up. Add a tsp of cornflour.
  • Serve chicken on a bed of carrots, rosemary and sliced oranges for a festive meal.

White Chocolate And Raspberry “Pot du Creme”

Lighter than a pudding, but thicker than a mousse these "pot du creme" are incredibly decadent and sinfully easy to make in your instant pot.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Instant Pot Chocolate Mousse, Instant Pot Dessert, Quick Dessert, White chocolate and raspberry mousse, white chocolate mousse, white chocolate pot du creme

Equipment

  • Instant Pot
  • Blender
  • 4 Ramekin dishes

Ingredients

  • 170 grams White Chocolate chopped
  • 1 Zest of lemon
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pkt Raspberries

Instructions

  • Add chopped up chocolate, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and a pinch of salt to blender and grind to break up chocolate.
  • Warm heavy cream gently in microwave (you don't want it hot, just warm) and pour into blender (ideally while still blending). Blend until smooth.
  • Divide mixture evenly into Ramekin dishes.
  • Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot and place metal trivet in.
  • Place dishes on top of trivet and close the Instant Pot and set to seal.
  • Select "Manual" function and select ZERO on timer. Yes, select ZERO minutes.
  • Naturally release for 5 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure.
  • Remove the ramekins and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  • Meanwhile, combine raspberries, 2 tbsp water and a little icing sugar in a blender to make a coulis. Blend until smooth, adding additional water as needed. Strain the sauce to remove seeds.
  • Top each ramekin with the raspberry sauce and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Notes

**TOP TIP** If you have clear glass ramekins (heat proof) use them, it makes for such a pretty serving if you can see the white and red layers.
** By selecting 0 minutes on the pressure cooker, it really just brings it up to pressure and then releases.

*White Chocolate Pot du Creme recipe originally found from Chop Secrets.

**Collaboration with Instant Pot**

Times Are Changing – As You Turn Six

Times Are Changing – As You Turn Six

We have a birthday fast approaching in our house and it’s leaving me more than a little anxious. For me it signifies the end of a chapter, one that I loved with every single inch of my soul. One that I have a passion for, one that holds growth, learning and curiosity.

Six, it signifies the official end to the “preschool/toddler” years.. The start of being a “big boy”, am I going to lose my baby?

When I was an Au Pair, I used to joke that when I had kids, once they reached the age of 7, I would ship them off to my mum and dad until they reached the age of about 14, because it was my least favourite age to look after. Of course, my mindset has changed now that I actually am a mother myself. Yes, while these early childhood years have been tough – waking up multiple times in the night, trying to negotiate your way out of tantrums and dinner time, I can’t help but think about all the things I’m going to miss..…

Those chubby cheeks and hands.

Over the last year I’ve noticed how my sons’ body has changed (no we haven’t quite hit the teen years yet), but he’s lost his overall soft “roundness”. His hands have lost all chubbiness and his cheeks have evened out into a young boy’s face. His legs are becoming more athletic and take up so much more of the bed now.

Nap Time

I know most parents drop nap times a little earlier, but I have always insisted, that the boys nap in the day.  My eldest can still pass out at the drop of a hat if we are in the car, and my youngest will fight it until he just cant open his eyes anymore, but for the most part they don’t nap in the day any longer. I’ll definitely miss that quiet zen time but most of all ill miss those “I just woke up” cuddles in the afternoon.

Cuddles

They just don’t keep still long enough to cuddle anymore. My eldest has already stopped giving me a big kiss at school in the morning (at least he still holds my hand). Bed time is our cuddle time, and I have the boys in each arm, though I know that this wont last for much longer. I’m holding onto every single hug while I can.

Endless days to explore and adventure

Up until Grade One, both my husband and I have always had a laid back approach to school/playschool. They aren’t in formal school yet and until they are, I steal every moment I can to spend with them exploring and going on adventures. We love taking a day to go to farms or parks, read books and bake at home. From next year however, the real school begins, and we wont be able to do this anytime we wish. Seeing the world as new through your child’s eyes is one of the most amazing things about being a parent and it’s something I’m going to miss witnessing first hand.

The cute way they talk

“Mommy, do you know….” Almost every sentence begins like this when you are 4. The excitement to tell me every single thing is electrifying, and sometimes they get so excited the sentences form too quickly for their little mouths to speak out. The made up words and overall grasp of the English language are one of my favourite things to listen to. Pretty soon though, all I will be hearing is “cool” and I’ll be an expert in all things slang.

My toddler mom group

There are no better friendships then the ones formed over toddler mom groups. I can already feel our paths diverging, with our kids in school more formally. Weekly meet ups have become bi monthly get-togethers or quick catch ups at birthday parties. I will love these ladies eternally and hold all of our fun memories so close to my heart. I’m going to miss our kids all playing and exploring together.

Their special toys

My eldest has a soft “kitty” teddy, a kitty who has been washed so many times he can practically roll up into the palm of your hand, a kitty who has been loved so much he only has one eye left. A kitty who is the one toy that will get selected to accompany us where ever we go. He has been a part of the “family” since Aadam was about 5 months old and has proudly been displayed at many “show and tell” days. For the last few months though, the requests for Kitty to be in the bed at night have dwindled.. a sure sign that times are changing, I think I know how Woody from Toy Story felt!

Baby teeth

YES IM GOING TO MISS YOUR TEETH! Baby teeth are just so damn cute. Every day my eldest keeps asking, “mama is my tooth wobbly yet?”. I keep telling him that the longer he has his baby teeth the better, but he is just so darn excited for one to fall out like his classmates. Slow down my baby boy, I love those tiny little teeth of yours.

Being their entire world

For the past 6 years I have been everything to you (Ok Ok I’ll give your dad a bit of credit too :)), but my boy is a mommies boy (In a good way, and I’m proud of it). At times its been completely and utterly draining and I’ve sometimes wished you would ask for your dad more, but in all honesty, I have loved every single second. It’s what I was made to do, you gave my life a sense of purpose. The special bond we have had during these early childhood years has changed me as a person completely and I pray in some way, we can hold onto it forever.

Even though I’m mourning a chapter, I know this thing called “growing up” has to happen and I’m a little excited for the “bratty” years ahead. Seeing how you develop into an independent boy, watching your interests and hobbies grow and watching you learn all the basics of Maths and Science. All the sports days and swimming competitions we have to look forward to , and all the school projects ahead. Your first crush…

I just pray for the kind heart I see in you now to always stay firmly in place. For you to always wake up each day filled with optimism and hope. May you always be as affectionate and kind as you are now. Be a student in life, as well as a teacher. Learn from every opportunity, and when you know something, share your knowledge. I want you to win at all the thing you love, but I also want you to lose, with grace. For its from those failures that the wins become even sweeter and your character will be built. I hope you never stop dreaming, your dreams of becoming a Formula One Driver or Moto GP racer fill my heart with joy, and I hope you never lose that passion.

Happy Birthday to my Six Year Old! You changed our worlds for the better, and I am so grateful that God chose me to me your mama xx

Healthy School Lunch Box Ideas + Giveaway with Kiddylicious

Healthy School Lunch Box Ideas + Giveaway with Kiddylicious

Hands up to all the moms of serial snackers !! From the moment my kids wake up to the second they lay their heads on the pillow at night, I feel like they are constantly asking for snacks. I am always on the look out for new snack or lunch box ideas so when Kiddylicious approached me to “swap out” the unhealthy snacks, I jumped at the challenge!

I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut recently with school lunches. Whether its lack of time, laziness or just uninspired because its the end of year, I’ve been feeling like a pack the same lunch for the boys every day of the week. I previously shared some lunch ideas on the blog which kept me going for some time, but preferences also change. For example, I have been told that I’m not allowed to pack pizza anymore, because its cold (turns out his preschool teacher used to warm it up for him all this time) – so that quickly eliminated that option. Schools also place restrictions on bringing nuts or granola bars with peanut butter in etc, so it limits our options a little more.

I sat down to create 4 new lunch ideas, swapping out the cookies and chip treats I added in the last one, with healthier options from Kiddylicious.
Why 4? Well, because once I week I let him order tuck 🙂 Every mama needs a break right?

We always use Sistema lunch boxes because of the bento style layout. These are perfect for serial snackers and allow me to separate everything comfortably.

Option 1: Tomato and cheese skewers, biltong for a protein, Kiddylicious cheese stars, a citrus, grapes and our cult favourite, Kiddylicious coconut rolls.

Option Two: “Crustless quiches” (egg muffins are sooo quick and easy to make), popcorn, grapes, cheese, Kiddylicious fruit wriggles and some veggie straws.

Option Three: Chicken pops, rice crackers, strawberries and watermelon with Kiddylicious cheese straws and a strawberry fruity bake as a treat.

Option Four: There is nothing wrong with a good old sandwich, I try to steer away from them too much as the kids get a sandwich and fruit for their first break at the school, so I don’t give them everyday. Yes, this is on white bread and yes, my kids do eat brown as well (just in case there is judgement here). A cheese sandwich with cucumber and carrots, a citrus served with Kiddylicious strawberry fruit wiggles and the divine apple soft biscotti.

Option Five: Tuck Day 🙂 He always orders a toasted cheese sandwich in any case, but if you really wanted one; go with some mini meatballs (woolworths does a great option for kids), yoghurt covered rice cakes, apple slices, yoghurt served with Kiddylicious banana coconut rolls!

Its so easy to make sure no unhealthy treats slip in with brands like Kiddylicious helping us to tackle good food options.

GIVEAWAY – Win a hamper filled with Kiddylicious snacks and a Sistema Lunch Box

Make sure you are following In these Stilettos and Kiddylicious over on Instagram. Tag a fellow mum who could use some inspiration.

Comment below on what you would swap out in your lunch box?

Competition is open only to residents of South Africa, winner will be announced on Friday 15 October 2019.

Celebrating Our Heritage With Instant Pot

Celebrating Our Heritage With Instant Pot

There sure has been a lot of negative talk and feelings about South Africa recently, a string of bad news, crime and a tumbling economy has left more than just a few South Africans wondering about their future here. The one thing South Africa will always do right however, apart from a braai, is being a fiercely proud nation. Wherever you go around the world you are bound to bump into a fellow Saffa, and you are more than likely to receive an invite for a braai. We are a proud rainbow nation, and with such a melting pot of cultures, its no wonder our cuisine is voted among the world’s best!

For Heritage Day this year, why not spend more time with the people that are close to you, and less time in the kitchen? We have been experimenting with our Instant Pot recently and when we were challenged to come up with perfect Heritage Day meal plan, we jumped at the chance to create a full menu in this life saving appliance. Head on over to our IGTV to see the video, or read on for the full menu plan.

Heritage Day Menu

  • Tender Lamb Curry Served with Sticky Jasmine Rice
  • Decadent Peppermint Crisp Baked Cheesecake

Lamb Curry Ingredients:

  • 800g/1kg chopped stewing lamb
  • 1 tin crushed tomato OR 3/4 grated tomato
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • Handful of fresh coriander to garnish
To Marinade:
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp fine cinnamon
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic masala
  • salt to taste

Start off by mixing together the yoghurt and spices and marinade your lamb for a minimum of 2 hours (trust me, the longer the better). While that is sitting, get on with your Jasmine Rice (this can also be done in the Instant Pot).

Jasmine Rice
  • Using a ratio of 1:1. Rinse your rice under water until clear (when using a pressure cooker this is a must).
  • Take two cups of Jasmine Rice and two cups of water and put into your Instant Pot
  • Place cover on and turn valve to seal.
  • Set on a manual setting of 5 minutes on high pressure. Do a natural release for 10 minutes and then switch to vent to open.
  • Perfect sticky jasmine rice.
Curry
  • Saute the onions with ginger/garlic until they begin to get a bit golden.
  • Add in your marinated lamb and saute for about 1 minute and then add 1/4 cup of water and your tin of tomatoes.
  • Optional to add in potatoes if you wish (I did).
  • Switch off saute and select meat/stew function and cook for 27 minutes. I did a natural release for about 10 minutes. If you want to thicken up your sauce a little, when you remove the lid switch to saute function again for about 3 minutes.

That’s it. Its literally that easy to create a lamb curry that tastes like its been simmering for hours!

Now it wouldn’t be a Heritage Day lunch without some dessert and tea so here is my take on the traditional “Peppermint Crisp Dessert”; how about a Caramel Peppermint Crisp baked cheesecake? Yes, done in an Instant Pot!

Peppermint Crisp Baked Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 1 packet peppermint chocolate chip biscuits, crushed
  • 100 g butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 125 ml sugar
  • 30 ml cake flour
  • 80 ml cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 g Peppermint chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:

  • Half a tin of Caramel Treat
  • 100 g finely chopped mint chocolate

Method:

  • Start by measuring a spring form pan to your Instant Pot, make sure it fits in the Instant Pot, on the metal trivet with the handles up. Then grease your pan and place baking paper on the bottom.
  • Mix your crushed biscuit and melted butter into the bottom of the pan and chill in the freezer while you get on with the filling.
  • Cream together the mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar, four and cream together until smooth. Add in the egg and egg yolk and then fold in the chopped chocolate. Pour into the chilled biscuit base.
  • Pour 250 ml of water into your instant pot and place the metal trivet inside with the handles facing up. Cover your cheesecake with a double layer of foil and carefully lower onto the trivet.
  • Close the lid and set valve to seal. Select pressure cook function and choose 40 minutes. Let it do a natural release for about 20 minutes and then open valve to venting. Once your metal popper has gone done, safely open up you lid and take your cheesecake out.
  • Take out of the foil and chill in the fridge, for a minimum of 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  • Once chilled top with your Caramel Treat and chocolate.

There you have it! A proudly South African meal to celebrate your Heritage Day, all cooked in an Instant Pot with under an hour of total cooking time! If you had to buy one “extra” kitchen appliance, this should be it! Happy Heritage Day to all, what will you be making?

Recipe adapted from Cooked Inc.

*Disclaimer – this is a collaboration between Instant Pot SA and In these Stilettos.

We Are Counting Down Until Comic Con / Kids Con 2019.

We Are Counting Down Until Comic Con / Kids Con 2019.

Pop-culture fans unite! We are gearing up for the most interactive four-day pop culture festival, Comic Con Africa, and this year Kids Con is joining in on the action!

Comic Con Africa focuses on all elements of pop culture, including cosplay, comic books, anime, manga, film and series, games and books and authors. The festival also features a large range of pop culture and entertainment elements in animation, toys, gadgets, clothing, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels and the ever-popular Artists’ Alley.

This year sees a programme that is bigger than ever before, catering to the hardest of pop-culture fans, newcomers and kids. Five halls jam packed with competitions, seminars, workshops and over 160 hours of content, you can bet we are ready to geek out! It’s pop-culture paradise with almost 300 exhibitors offering event specials on everything from gaming hardware and accessories, apparel, pop-culture merchandise, comics, figurines and much more, my boys have been counting down for weeks! We have a superhero wish list ready to go!

As usual there will be no disappointment when it comes to the list of appearances, international stars like legendary actor, author, producer and director, William Shatner, as well as Anthony Mackie, (Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), these are just two of the big names who will be at Comic Con Africa 2019. Visitors will also be able to meet and interact with local trailblazers like Jason Masters, who has worked on various Batman titles including Legends of the Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine and X-Men as well as Sean Izaakse, a Marvel illustrator and comic artist who has worked on comics such as The Thunderbolts, Avengers, Deadpool and Captain America.

It’s not only the ultimate kids paradise with all the superhero’s they can think of, but one of the partner sponsors of KidsCon this year is Jaguar Land Rover. A number of exciting activities have been arranged for children to experience the thrill and technology of Jaguar, and adventurous nature of Land Rover. There will be giveaways from Jaguar Land Rover for young adventurers willing to get their hands dirty, a collection of branded goods for all age groups will be on sale and a full-size Jaguar F-PACE like you have never seen before ! Brands such as Lego and Hasbro have jumped on board and will be providing entertainment and activations for the kids, along with the best of the best in terms of merchandise to purchase.

Dress up in your best cosplay outfit to join the hundreds of singing stars at the Cosplay Karaoke Café, and compete in the Championships of Cosplay competition. If you are a gaming enthusiast, geek out in a dedicated gaming hall with freeplay zones, racing SIMs and the latest gaming equipment.

Don’t miss a moment, keep “App” to date with all things Comic Con Africa by downloading the Comic Con Africa App. It allows attendees to plan their experience and gives a full breakdown on whats on in each hall.

Where to buy tickets:

Comic Con Africa and Kids Con 2019 takes place this weekend, the 21-24 September, at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. A ticket to Comic Con Africa gives you access to the dedicated KidsCon Hall. Get your Comic Con Africa tickets now at http://bit.ly/CCA_KidsCon or www.computicket.co.za

Giveaway

Head on over to my instagram page and you may just get lucky and win tickets for a family of 4 to attend Comic Con 2019, on Tuesday 24 September!

Journey through Breastfeeding – What to Expect And What Is A Myth

Journey through Breastfeeding – What to Expect And What Is A Myth

4 years, well 47 months to be exact, and going strong. That’s how long I have been breastfeeding for. It’s something I hold so close to my heart and its accounted for many special bonding moments between my kids and I. It is something that I very nearly gave up however, and I certainly had no idea it would be as “hard” as it was. This post is aimed to educate new mothers about breastfeeding, because it truly does take a village. Whether you choose to breastfeed for just one day, or if you choose to do formula feeding, there is no judgement here at all. “Fed is best” at all costs, and a happy mommy is most important. HOWEVER, the amount of mothers that give up on their breastfeeding journey due to lack of support or mis-education is huge, and it’s those mothers that I hope to try and help. So If you are expecting, or if you plan to breastfeeding, PLEASE read this post. PLEASE try to remember the points I make and lets dispel these myths, one by one. Welcome to my “Ted talk”.

Lets begin in the early days, because if you have just started your journey you will relate.

Congratulations, and welcome to the crazy journey of motherhood. Its actually one that has made me so in awe of our creator. The whole process of growing a human, giving birth and then being able to nourish this tiny being, is mind blowing, and it’s just incredible to see what our bodies can do. The moment your little one is brought into this world, they can “crawl” their way up your chest to find milk. It’s incredible to watch and even more amazing to experience. The best piece of advice I can give for the early days is to “feed” baby as much as possible. Demand feed. Baby wants to be connected to you again in some way so let baba nurse as often as they want. As a new other you have no idea what to expect or what is “normal” in terms of milk. The amount of times I have heard “I don’t have enough milk” is shocking, but as a first time mother, how are you meant to know what’s normal and what is not? We see these big bottles of formula filled up and we presume our milk should be the same amount. I’m here to tell you ITS NOT. The reason the formula has to be such an amount is because it has to try and replicate the nutrition that babies get from just one drop of breast milk.

Myth 1: I “couldn’t” breastfeed

I have heard a lot of aunties and people say these words. While I don’t know their personal circumstances, the vast majority of women are physically capable of breastfeeding, as long as they have the help and support they need. Even if you haven’t physically given birth (adoptive mothers) you CAN breastfeed. Unless you have a rare condition called mammary hypoplasia, where women don’t have enough of the right type of breast tissue to produce milk, you are able to breastfeed. Whatever your breasts or nipples look like, you are equipped for the job. 

Myth 2: I don’t have enough milk

I want to scream when I hear this. I want to scream even louder when I hear nurses telling a mother this when a baby is only 2 days old. Bar a serious medical condition or medication, there is NO such thing. Refer to the graph below. Your baby’s’ stomach is the size of a cherry, a cherry! All it needs for the first few days is a teaspoon amount of your colostrum at a time. It is truly the perfect 1st meal for a baby. Don’t expect your breasts to fill up straight away. Colostrum is made up of living cells, it forms a protective lining inside baby’s gut and protects them from germs outside the womb. It also has a natural laxative effect, helping baba to clear out their system. Literal liquid gold. That’s why I say even if you only manage a few days, you have done an amazing thing. Newborns don’t need much but as you learn each other and your bodies, let baby suckle for as long as they need. Initially the feeds will take longer (20 minutes or so), but this often decreases as time goes on.

But how can I tell my baby is getting enough milk?

Before you turn to formula, the best way to tell whether your baby is getting enough is to look at his nappies. Up until about day 3, there should be about 3 wet nappies a say. Then from day 5 there should be at least 5 wet nappies a day. Always measure the nappies. Newborns tend to feed between 8 and 12 times a day.

My eldest was a little fighter (funnily enough he is now my softy), but as a baby my word he tested me. He had an incredibly strong latch but in those first few weeks, despite him gripping onto me like a bulldog there was clearly some air getting in somewhere and I ended up with blood blisters. Enter the all saving nipple cream that other mums swear by. Yes, it provided some relief but actually I found that “air drying” was the best. He would pull on my boobs, cry out in frustration, get wind and then get reflux, it was like a vicious cycle. He would scratch me, wack me in the face with his arm, I felt like giving up on more than one occasion. Then, without even realising it, one day it just clicked. We found our grove, which looking back, probably would have come a little quicker if I had seen a lactation consultant. Then I started expressing in my preparation to go back to work. Imagine my horror when I realised that I could only pump between 80 ml and 120 ml at a time! SURELY he was drinking more than that? According to the formula tin we needed about 180 ml per feed? Guess what? 3 kids later and I still only pump between 80 ml and 150 ml per feed. That’s what my babies drink, and its raised 3 pretty healthy kids. That’s the beauty of breastmilk. The amount may not change, but the nutrients inside do! Magic right?

As you start getting into the swing of things and you get over all the initial fullness and discomfort, your baba starts to mature a little bit and will start experiencing typical newborn winds and cramps. You may think your baba is in pain or is even constipated because they are struggling to “push”. Firstly, please remember that a baby needs to adjust to the world. They don’t come out walking and talking. Their muscles have to develop and their bodies have to learn. Their skin has to adjust to the air, material against their skin, dry air. This is typically when baby acne or little spots can start to appear. This is also when the next round of myths typically appear.

Myth 3: Your milk is too rich (or too weak)

I’m sorry but your milk is freaking perfect! It’s from you, and you are perfect! Breast milk is always just right and adjusts to babies needs. If you start expressing, you’ll notice how your “foremilk” will be a grey, watery consistency and then gradually as becomes a thick creamy consistency. The thinner milk is high in protein, sugar and vitamins and minerals. Its “refreshing”, (think coconut milk), while the creamier hindmilk has a higher fat and calorie content, to “fill baba up”. Your milk is not too rich, spots and cramps come with newborn territory and it is generally just their bodies adjusting.

Myth 4: My baby is allergic to my milk

Errrr no, sorry, they are not. Your milk is perfect. Baby COULD be allergic to something you have eaten that could pass through your milk, but typically, the biggest advantage to breast milk, is that it is introducing all these flavours and tastes to your little one “through a filter”. Breastfed babies often have less allergies as they have been exposed things all the way through. Newborn babies are often are most sensitive to the protein found in cow’s milk, or in soy and their tummies have a hard time digesting it. Cramping can occur, so if you suspect this try cutting it out of your diet to see if it improves. In addition, if you notice any blood in their stool it is typically a sign of an allergy.

Myth 5: Why is your baby rooting all the time, is she hungry all the time? You aren’t feeding her enough

Want to scream yet? I know I did! Your newborns stomach is the size of a fist. They need to fill it up little and more frequently, sometimes they drink to fill and other times they drink for comfort. Breast milk is also easier to digest then formula, so it digests quickly. There is nothing wrong with frequent feeding, if anything, in the early days, it’s setting you up for a great supply and it’s giving you time to just bond with baby.

Myth 6: You should feed every 4 hours.

This is a newborn we are talking about. Why would you want to “time” them? Feed on demand in the early days. Their appetites will vary every day so for the first few weeks just follow their cues. I always used the “4 hour rule” as a “must feed”, so if we were out and about and baby hadn’t had a feed for 4 hours, I knew to stop whatever we were doing to feed. When we were home however, I always fed on demand. As they hit the 3 or 4 month mark however, I do use the 4 hour rule as a guide.

As your baby grows, your milk matures.

Typically around 2 to 3 months the “let down” sensation wont “hurt” as much. Yes I found that tingling sensation to be so strong at times it hurt. It should all settle down and you will find your natural groove. The “struggle” will fade and the fighting and the “fighting” will not be as bad. You will feel more comfortable to feed in public now. You may have to start thinking about returning to work and expressing milk to freeze. Make sure you have the best quality pump you can afford, please don’t buy a second hand one. You can read the reasoning behind that here. Building a stash takes some time but its worth it. Be patient with expressing and try to stick to the same schedule every day (muscle memory). The more you express, the more milk you will get. Remember that demand always equals supply with breast milk. Its during these 3 – 4 months that you may notice that your milk supply varies. A number of factors influence your production, mainly, hydration (yours), stress and sleep. You could be starting to worry about your return to work, or you may have just have had one to many sleepless nights. When I see my milk supply decreasing at all I take it as a sign that I need to take a little time to slow down. Rest a bit more, increase my fluid in take and by eating certain food groups you can help to increase your supply (thanks Mrs.Milk). Medela has always been my pump of course, and I have used the swing, the swing maxi as well as the freestyle. Each pump is deigned for different price ranges and “lifestyle” needs.

Myth 7: You will have to stop breastfeeding when you return to work.

I’m here to say that I have worked with all 3 of my children and have managed to express for all of them. I fed my eldest for 15 months, my youngest son for 2 years and 4 months and know babygirl is on 4.5 months. Know your rights at work as well. Your workplace has to provide a safe place and give you 2 30 minute breaks to “feed your baby/express” up until 6 months. Remember, once you start your solids journey you may be able to drop a feed in the day as well. For anymore tips on breastfeeding while working you can read my previous article here.

We finish off by dispelling the biggest myth of all:

Myth 8: You can’t fall pregnant whilst breastfeeding

Well hi there, my name is Rebecca and I fell pregnant when breastfeeding 🙂 So did a few of my friends. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, a minimum of every four hours, then your chances of falling pregnant within the first 6 months are LESS, but still possible (Month 7 over here !). Its definitely not the most reliable plan for a contraceptive.

A few top tips to help you on your feeding journey:

  • Approach breastfeeding with determination and a strong mindset. You CAN do this, it may be natural but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Persistence pays off.
  • Get comfy – Before you sit down to feed make sure you have everything around you within reach. Some water/tea, your remote etc. Get comfortable. Feeding pillows are the BEST and help you and babe to be more comfortable.
  • If you are ill – I’m sure you have read it before but if you or your baby become ill, keep feeding! Your body produces breast milk containing more antibodies which protects your baby’s immunity. I have fed through flu, tummy bugs and bronchitis.
  • What happens when you get Mastitis – Blocked Milk Ducts and Mastitis will be experienced at some point, no doubt. It is uncomfortable and painful but it is manageable. Speak to a healthcare professional or a lactation consultant. The best way is to sit in a warm shower and massage your breast to try and “unblock” the duct. Warm face cloths and expressing can also help. If your nipples are extremely sensitive or baby is struggling with a latch, nipple shields and expressing can also help you get over the hill.
  • Nipple care: With your first baby in particular, you need to take care of yourself, and your milk makers 🙂 Its an adjustment and they go through a bit of a tough time. It does get easier, and with each child after a little easier still. Use a nipple cream (works for some and not others. Some people are actually allergic to lanolin. I preferred not to use it as I didn’t like the sticky feeling). Air dry as much as you can – don’t put your bra on straight away. Sit for a few minutes after each feed and let them dry naturally. If you are at a low point or are suffering, use a nipple shield. A few moms I know swear by them.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It truly does take a village. Please share this article with any new mum to be. We are all in it together. If love to hear if you have any other stories or tips. The challenges you faced and how you overcame them. You can make a difference in one persons life.

GIVEAWAY:

In light of giving back and helping another woman in their breastfeeding journey, I have partnered with some of the brands that helped me along the way. I’ll be giving away 1x Snuggletime feeding pillow, 1 x Medela mini-electric pump, Natralogic Nipple Creme and a variety pack of Mrs. Milk lactation bars.

To Enter:

Make sure you follow all brands involved on Facebook and Instagram;

And of course me 🙂 In these Stilettos.

Comment below and share your tips. This really is all about helping one another and encouraging each other. So I would love to hear your success stories and personal journeys to inspire others.

That’s it! Competition will close on Friday 20 September at Midnight and winner will be announced after. Please note that the design and style of the Snuggletime pillow may vary dependent on availability.

10 Things I Wish They Taught You About Newborns

10 Things I Wish They Taught You About Newborns

I remember the helpless feeling I had with my firstborn. Everything I had read and studied for had prepared me for birth, but now I was home with my baby and I had nothing. Nothing to refer to, no “what to expect book” to help. I sent my mum in law out to buy me the “what to expect in your first year” book within the first week we were home as I was so used to having something to refer to. This came with no manual and I was clueless!

People expect this happy, smiling, coo-ing baby to come out and when they are niggly, or crying, or seem unhappy we worry. Of course we do, it’s natural. The wait till our 6 week check up with the Pediatrician seemed endless and I had a growing list of concerns and queries to raise with her during our visit.

Two kids later and safe to say I am a little more confident in my abilities and what newborns come with, though I have seen first hand there is still a huge “gap in the market” on newborn behaviour and as a new mother, what to expect.

So here are some things I urge every mum to be or new mum to read, these are the things that I wish I had known with my firstborn (please note I am not a medical doctor, these are just my first hand experiences, if you truly are worried about something it’s always better to get a professional opinion):

  • Breastfeeding takes a while to get into – You and baby will take at least 3 weeks getting to know each other and finding your groove. Your nipples will feel like hot razors are running through them and when your milk kicks in you will feel like you have hard rocks attached to your chest. It’s excruciating, and you may cry BUT It does pass and it does get easier, trust me. It’s the one thing you don’t want to give up on, even one day of breastmilk is better than none at all.
  • Babies will cramp – Breastfed babies (I can only speak from this experience), will experience cramps and winds. It’s more frustrating for parents I think then it is for the babies, but please know that this is (mostly) normal. Unless baby is not putting on any weight, or you notice blood in a stool at all, it’s nothing to worry too much about. Yes it’s hard seeing a little baby in discomfort and cramping, but it will pass. Remember, their intestines have been 100 percent sterile, every single thing they ingest (through you) is new. Their digestive systems adjust to all the new nutrients in their bodies. Their muscles have to form. Please have patience and give them time. You can relieve some of your newborn’s discomfort by rocking her, carrying her in an infant carrier, or holding her in an upright position.
  • Baby skin issues – a baby’s skin will flake and peel, it’s completely normal, especially around their hands and feet. I mean they have been in fluid for almost 10 months, of course it’s going to adjust! You can also almost guarantee rashes, acne or skin irritations. From heat rashes, to baby acne or blocked pores all babies experience unsightly skin at some point. DO NOT pick those little white spots. Baby acne will typically clear up on its own but sometimes you may need a little steroid cream for help.
  • Reflux is more common than you think – again, largely in babies that are breastfed because of the consistency of your milk. It typically passes in the first 3 – 4 months. Your babies tummy has to settle into a rhythm. Until this happens, milk can sit in the stomach and then come back up in a reflux action. It can be related to some babies not having sufficient enzymes as well, and sometimes the little valve between the oesophagus and stomach, is underdeveloped which will cause him frequently to spit up or vomit. As baby grows and develops, it will pass, unless they have a medical condition and aren’t gaining any weight. Sleeping on a wedge helped us tremendously with our kids, as does holding baby upright.
  • Newborns will want to nurse A LOT. They “eat” a ton, but it’s not always for nutrition, it’s for comfort. For that reason I always encourage new mothers to feed on demand. DO NOT time your feeds. This is crucial to build up an adequate milk supply as well. This little soul has been connected to you for 9 full months and is suddenly no longer joined to you. They want to nurse to feel close to their mama’s again, to feel your heartbeat. Newborns also only a eat a little at a time, so expect many, many feedings each day and night ( a teaspoon amount in those first few weeks ).
  • You cannot “SPOIL” a baby – so Hold your baby, for as long as they need.
    Hold them. And do it as much as you want. I promise you will not start any bad habits. They need you, and won’t always be that tiny. Those newborn cuddles fly by quicker than you think and you will long for that feeling again. So hold them mama, for naps, at bedtime, when you’re watching TV. Let them sleep on you, its bonding time you will never get back and it releases happy hormones. This is your maternity leave for a reason, embrace every breath and get to know each other.
  • Let them sleep! PLEASE DO NOT worry about routine or sleeping patterns, until at least 3 months. Newborns sleep something like 18 hours a day, and when they aren’t sleeping they are feeding or burping or trying to pass gass. So let them sleep (unless of course they are sleeping longer than 5 hour stretches in the day, then pick them up to feed them).
  • You need a degree on poops – There is no greater force than that of a baby pooping. Those rocket fueled gas bubbles that can propel poop across the room. The sound that vibrates the windows 🙂 It’s all about the gas coming out and their tummy muscles developing. If you can see your baby straining, sometimes wiping a babies bum also stimulates the colon. If I saw my little one cramping I would open up her nappy and wipe her bum with a little cotton wool and water, it’s almost always sure to get some poop out!
  • You baby is tougher than you give him credit for – God has created this perfect little human being, and aside from any physical or mental ailments or disabilities, their bodies can handle more than we give them credit for.   Yes, newborns are tiny and vulnerable and fragile and helpless, but trust in them, and trust in you.
  • Time will fly by quicker then you think. I feel like I gave birth to my youngest a month ago, but its already been 4.5 months. Time is flying and I am already missing those newborn cuddles. Don’t rush time away. Every day that passes is another day conquered. Give your baby and yourself a break. This is the most trying period in your life, and we often don’t expect all the “hardships”. Bar any illness and as long as baby is gaining weight and is healthy, trust yourself. You got this mama!
Best Ever M&M Cookies

Best Ever M&M Cookies

Is there anything better then a freshly baked cookie? I am a sucker for a soft, chewy cookie, add in my favourite chocolate treat and I’m in heaven. Whether its classic choc chip, Cadbury chocolate cookies, or good old M&M’s, cookies are a favourite to make (and eat) in our house. These soft, chewy, chocolate filled cookies taste like they came straight from a top baker and are utterly addictive!

Ingredients:

  • 227 grams butter , at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup M&M’s (or one cup M&M’s and one cup choc chips)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line baking tray with baking paper or a silicon mat.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix.
  3. Next add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in the M&M’s. Refrigerate dough for about 10 minutes. (This is the secret to a chew center)
  4. Scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet, using the either an ice cream scoop or a teaspoon and form into a ball shape. Place extra M&M’s on top.
  5. Bake M&M cookies for 8-10 minutes, until tops are just golden. Leave to set on the tray for about a minute and then transfer onto your tray to cool

Top Tip:

You cant have too many M&M’s in them. Initially I was a little stingy, wanted to spread out them out evenly, as I got towards the end though, I realised the more M&M’s the better! These cookies are thick and chewy, yet super soft on the inside with beautifully crisp edges. You can swap out one cup of M&Ms for chocolate chips if you like, but I double dosed on my colourful candies 🙂

Classic Vanilla Sponge Cake

Classic Vanilla Sponge Cake

This is one of those recipes where you really cannot go wrong. A perfect bake every single time and you can mix it up as much as you like. Add a little cocoa to make it chocolate, ice with a ganache or a layer with traditional jam and cream, this sponge recipe is so versatile! Its not your quintessential sponge, mine has a twist to it, which in my opinion, makes it even softer and lighter. This tea time treat can be ready for the oven in 15 minutes or less!

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 cup all purpose cake flour
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Generous teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Method:

Preheat Oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.

Beat the egg whites and castor sugar together until peaks form, and its nice and thick and glossy. Add in the egg yolks, extract and beat until just combined.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and fold into the mixture gently until well incorporated, keeping it light and fluffy.

Add in the melted butter and lastly the hot water, and fold.

Pour the mixture into a tray of your choice. I used a tray here but you can use two 8 inch round trays too.

Bake for approx 20-25 minutes until well done.

For the Icing:

You can choose your preferred icing. I have made this cake a number of different ways. Sometimes I fill it with caramel and cream and dust it with a little icing sugar, other times I go the traditional Victoria Sponge route. In this particular instance I used a white chocolate ganache. Melting 2 bars of white Cadbury “Dream” chocolate together with some Nestle tinned cream (about half a tin).

This cake is perfect for a weekend treat or if you have last minute guests arriving. Perfect every time!

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Aquafaba, its been around for years; I certainly haven’t created anything new here but I personally only discovered it recently and what an incredible eye opener! Aquafaba is often used in vegan cooking and baking. This super cool substance mimics the functional properties of egg whites in cooking, and can be used as a direct replacement, including meringues and marshmallows.

With baby around now I have to start becoming more conscious of some of the sensory play we do with the boys, and in a few short months I will start introducing her to our wonderful world of play! I was researching edible slime and foam recipes when I stumbled across this Chickpea foam, and in all honesty, it really is the best foam, in terms of consistency, that we have made.

Easy to make

It could not be easier. Simply strain a can (or two) of chickpeas into a bowl and beat on high until it starts to fluff up. Add in a tablespoon or so of Cream of Tartar to really stiffen the peaks, and add in food colouring of your choice. Ill be honest, at first the smell is a bit much, so I chucked in a tiny bit of rose essence to lighten it up.

It foams up better than shaving cream and keeps its form for longer. We made up a rainbow batch that the boys played with all afternoon, making potions and soups for us to sample. Kids adore sensory play and the texture of this foam will keep them busy for hours, just make sure you have some good chickpea recipes on standby for the week to use up the tins 🙂

Have you got any other super fun taste safe sensory play ideas? Id love to hear about them!



Third Time Around – A Birth Story Of A Princess

Third Time Around – A Birth Story Of A Princess

Hearing a good birth story is extremely powerful. I used to read through dozens when I was pregnant. Listening to other women’s stories empowers and educates you for your own, it inspires courage. This was my third baby and second V-Bac and I hope that it gives comfort to any of you out there, wondering if you can do it. Our bodies are absolutely incredible, listen to your body, listen to your gut, you can do whatever you set your mind too.

Here is Raya’s story:

To our beautiful baby girl, at just over 3 months old I think its time you had your first little letter dedicated to you and your birth story. I’ve written about your brothers and before it starts to get all hazy and memories fade I thought let me put yours down.

Your pregnancy was by far the most trying one I have had. Not that it was awful, it just felt like I was pregnant forever. I also had every single pregnancy “ailment” one could think of which made me so uncomfortable. But, Alhumdullilah, both you and I managed to stay healthy and strong throughout it.

I was determined to have a second V-Bac; having had an emergency c-section with your brother and a V-bac the second time, I knew the natural recovery was a waaaay easier option. I knew my body could do it and I wanted you to come on your own accord. I even contemplated a home birth with you and considered an all natural option.

You kept me waiting right until the end, like both of your brothers. At 41 weeks, I was due to go in to have either an induction or a c section on the Thursday morning. Wednesday was spent dropping and fetching your brothers from school, eating dates, drinking Raspberry Tea and walking to try and get you here. Thankfully, you heard my prayers and just before Midnight on Wednesday night, as I was doing some last minute cupboard organisation (and climbing up and down off a chair), my waters broke. This wasn’t my first rodeo, so I went downstairs to tell your dad, double checked everything was all packed and tried to get some sleep. I was in no rush to head to hospital just yet, and I wanted to stay comfortable at home for as long as possible. Your big brother woke up at about 1h30 and I took him back to his room and lay with him, timing the contractions as they came. It only took about an hour until they were 3 or 4 minutes apart and started to get a “little” sore. The warm waters of a hot shower helped to ease the pain and I got dressed, did my make up (of course I did) and at about 3h30 am woke your dad up to tell him it was time to get to the hospital. He woke up, had a cigarette and was taking his time in the shower! You’ll soon realise that I don’t swear much at all, but at this point, as I was trying to breathe through the pain, I “politely” told your dad that now was not the best moment to take his sweet time.

4 am seems to be our “go to the hospital” time, its the same time we went to the hospital with your brother too. I held onto the crash bar and lifted my bum off the seat the whole way to the hospital (the bumps on the road were so uncomfortable). We walked into the hospital just before 4h30 and did all the pre-checks and paperwork. I had to hold on to the counter for support and couldn’t talk while the contractions happened, so I knew you wouldn’t be too far off. All the normal labour rooms were full so they put us into the examining room and drew the curtains. I can safely say at this point there was about a minute or two between the contractions and they were more than a little painful. We had the coolest mid-wife who was chilled and calm about everything and was rushing between our room and another. She was hip and told me to “do your thing mama” and didn’t keep me strapped down to the monitors, which I was grateful for. She joked we would end up delivering at the same time as next door and I estimated you would make your appearance at 6h30 am. By 5h30 am, I still hadn’t received my requested shot of pethidine (I think the midwife was trying to get me to go natural) but at this point my tiredness was taking over, and I craved relief from the pain. She finally came back with it but I’m convinced she didn’t give me a full dose because it didn’t really “take the edge off”, or it could have been because I was too tired. Your daddy was there supporting me as always, but when it comes to labouring I am super frigid. I don’t want to be touched or talked to, I want your presence next to me but don’t freaking touch me 🙂

The doc arrived just before 6am and at that stage I was pretty much 9 or 10 cm and she just told me to call her when I felt that “urge to push” – (mama’s reading this, you know what I mean). At 7am I still hadn’t had the overwhelming urge (I mean it was there, but not really strong like it was with your brother) and was starting to worry as the lady next door had already delivered. Being a V-Bac I knew time and progression was of the essence and I sure as hell didn’t want you to be an emergency C-section. So I told a little white lie and told my doc I was ready (in hindsight maybe not the best option). I had 2 or 3 pushes and then it seemed like my contractions weren’t strong anymore, I couldn’t feel them as much and it felt like they were taking too long (could have also been the pethidine). I was pushing and bearing all the weight down in my neck (I felt it the next day) and not enough into my legs. They pulled out the stirrups and on push 3 Doc told me if your head didn’t drop down more she was going to have to use the vacuum (I had no objections), but if the vacuum didn’t help pull your head down she was going to operate… Push 4 and what seemed like a never ending push (I ran out of breath, have you ever tried taking another deep breath whilst still pushing down?? Its freaking impossible); you finally entered the world.

At 7h24 am on the 18th April 2019 you were placed on my chest for the first time, I will never forget the feeling of holding your warm, slippery body on my chest. You were so so warm and my body temperature by then was so so low. The first thing I noticed was how big you were and what an incredible amount of hair you had (explains the 2 solid weeks of agonizing heart burn I had). You weighed 3.68 kgs and opened your eyes immediately. Your daddy cut your cord and whispered Azaan in your ear. I almost gave up. I said to my doctor in that last push that I couldn’t push anymore and “I give up”, but the moment you were placed on my chest everything was forgotten about. Everyone else disappeared and in that moment it was just you and I.

I hadn’t had a drip or anything while I was in labour so they put that in afterwards while they cleaned up a bit and waited for my blood pressure to stabilize before wheeling us to our ward at 9 am (I lost a decent amount of blood with you). The first thing I did was order a giant bowl of hot oats and a pot of tea 🙂 Your daddy went home to get some sleep and you slept on my chest the whole morning, skin to skin. Of course I didn’t sleep a wink yet because every 30 minutes in hospital there is a knock on the door, checking blood pressure, changing dustbins etc. I realised at about 10am that I hadn’t even tried to “feed you yet” (it shocked me because Id done that immediately with your brothers, but you hadn’t even cried!) and you latched with ease and strong force. By noon I begged the nurses to let me go and bath and get cleaned up, I didn’t want your brothers seeing any “mess” when the came to meet you. They came in awe to meet their baby sister at about 2pm and were so unsure and cautious. It was so precious and I’m so glad your auntie was there to capture the moment.

Your narnie spent the night with us in the room and once the doc came around the next morning to do her rounds she gave us the all clear to go home if we wanted to! So you came home and completed our family of 5 on your very second day.

Raya Maryam you have always been with us, it’s like you have always been a part of the family and are the sweetest baby ever. You are happy, smiley, patient and you hardly ever fuss. Your brothers are obsessed with you and you are your dad’s baby love. I cant wait to adventure with you and watch you discover the world. We are so in love with you and will always be by your side, lifting you up.

all newborn shoot photos were done by Slumberlings Photography and all photographs are subject to copyright.

Finding Your “WHY” And Remaining True

Finding Your “WHY” And Remaining True

The whole Instagram hiding likes thing versus drops in engagement has got me thinking recently…

I found myself over the past few days noticing a HUGE drop in the number of “likes” I received on Instagram, of course it worried me. It concerned me that I wasn’t putting out enough good content, it concerned me that my readers weren’t relating to my content anymore. Thankfully I’m old enough and wise enough to not take it personally and to understand that Instagram is going through some changes, but it got me thinking about all the users who do measure their sense of worth and self belief against this tool. Scary thought right? The only reason I ever started paying attention to “likes” is because I know that brands look out for it to measure ROI, but true engagement means so much more then just a heart button.

The amount of times I haven been approached by people on Instagram who want to “get into blogging”, looking for advice on how to start is more than I can count. Before I give advice away, my one response to everyone will always be, is “WHY”? What is your passion? Would you still blog if there was no Instagram? Would you still share your thoughts and stories if there weren’t any “perks”?

Now more then ever, with the changes in algorithms and measures of engagement, you should definitely keep sight of your purpose. It’s one of the reasons why I hate the term “influencer”. Yes, I can fully understand why it’s used, but I truly believe no individual can call rightfully call oneself an “influencer”. People around you can refer to you as one, but an “influencer” should come from a natural place. It should be an honest, first hand experience, not just someone plugging every single branded item. It should come from a place of authenticity. So if you start your blogging career with the aim to “be an influencer”, my suggestion is to walk away. Times are changing.

My “WHY” is, and has always been to help other mothers. In whatever way that may be; whether it’s to inspire you with creative crafts and activities to do with your children, or the best places to go that are child friendly in your area (the top reasons I started my blog up again); I want to help mothers on their journey. If you’re a new mom in that crazy, whirlwind newborn phase, and you don’t know what to do or where to turn, I’m here for you. If you’re starting out on your breastfeeding journey or experimenting with solids for the first time, I can relate, I am just a message away. Motherhood is my “WHY” .

Motherhood is something you can never actually understand or prepare for until you are in it. Becoming a mother for the first time is one of the most confusing, self doubting stages in all your life, whether you are the smartest woman in the world or not, we all experience the same things. I wanted to create a community and a safe space for any mum to reach out. For all mums to know that we are in it together and to create a community where we can all support one another along the way.

I may have gotten caught up a little with measuring my worth against others with more hearts on a social media page, but ultimately, you are all my “why”. So thank you, thank you for staying with me in this journey of motherhood. Thank you for reminding me of why I chose to blog and for being “my why”.

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

I love being a working mother, I love being able to have my “own identity” at work and earning my own money. I love being a mother slightly more though, and my children are by far the greatest gift I have ever been given and the most important thing in my life.

The hardest thing you will ever have to do is “go back to work” after having a baby. I have been extremely blessed so far in my career to work for organizations that are flexible in terms of hours and working conditions, something I am pleased to say is becoming easier in South Africa. I only truly “went back to work” with my eldest, and I did that for 4 months before finding a role that allowed me to work from home and be with my boys for over 4 years. Now on baby 3 I find myself “returning to the workplace” once again, leaving a little 3 month old baba at home.

Yes, part of me wants to “run back to the office”. Lets be honest here, and don’t judge me, having been a “stay at home” mum and a “working mum”, it’s a hell of a lot easier on some days to run away to the office and let your caregiver take care of the crying, nap times and feeds. A large part of me however, also wants to stay at home and soak in every single cuddle and sweet smile. The years fly by and in the blink of an eye she will be walking and talking. But, like 90% of South Africa’s women, I need to go back into the office and I am beyond grateful that I have a super nanny to look after my babygirl and I don’t need to put her into a creche yet.

The hardest part of going back to work is always the preparation stage. If you are breastfeeding, it’s making sure whenever you have a free moment, that you are pumping milk to freeze. It’s getting baby used to the nanny/ caregiver and allowing them to learn each other. It means sitting in another room and using all your might not to run and hold baby at every single cry. Hearing your baby crying but knowing that you need to let another person get used to her and understand her cues, to learn her signals like you do as her mother.

The one thing I can do for my babygirl is feed her, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. Breastfeeding for me is just the most special journey. I breastfed my eldest for over a year, my second son for over 2 years and although circumstances are different now, I fully intend to feed my babygirl for over a year too. Maintaining a corporate career and breastfeeding a baby is a full on commitment in itself and one that I certainly wouldn’t be able to do with some help along the way.

If you are planning on keeping up your supply whilst working there are a couple of things you can do to help you on your journey:

  • Firstly, a really great double pump, and make sure you get a hands free bustier. I’m currently using the Medela Freestyle and loving it! Its compact and small and has a fully chargeable lithium battery, meaning I can pop down to my car to pump (open plan offices and clear glass windows in meeting rooms aren’t great for pumping). It takes 17 minutes from start to finish for me to pump out a full feed for Raya, and with the hands free bustier I can even carry on working. Nothing makes you feel more like a superwomen then multitasking 🙂 They key is to try and pump as close to baby’s normal feeding times as possible. I make sure I have enough of a freezer stash available to last a week or two and then whatever I pump that day gets replenished. As soon as I am at home, baby feeds from me as normal.
  • Mrs Milk Lactation Bars – Different to traditional lactation cookies in that Mrs Milk provides nutrition, for both mum and baby. “Mrs Milk” bars are fantastic for busy mama’s, not only providing you with key “milk boosting” ingredients like fenugreek, flax and brewers yeast, but also providing you with nutrition and energy for the day ahead. Calories are important when breastfeeding and life is chaotic! We often forget things like breakfast or snacks when you are running between work and kids, and Mrs Milk bars are the perfect in between! They fill you up with all the right things and come in two flavours, the classic and the green apple and moringa (my favourite).
  • Lactation Cookies – I have also been munching my way through “Nursing Mama” cookies. The ULTIMATE pick me up treat 🙂 No more mid afternoon or late night choccies for me, because these lactation cookies curb every craving. They are super yummy and come in 3 flavours, coconut and almond (my favourite), peanut butter and chocolate as well as white chocolate and almond. There is even a range to help curb morning sickness.  I find some of the flavours a little sweet, but I love the fact that you can buy pre-mixes, because honestly, who has time to run around looking for ingredients like flax seed and brewers yeast? When I bake the pre-mixes I just add a little less chocolate or sugar in to suit my taste.
  • Hydration – Goes without saying. Water=Milk, in this case anyway. If you do not increase your hydration, you will not produce enough breastmilk. It’s that simple. So whether its herbal, nursing teas, or plain old water; drink drink drink!
  • Finally a crucial item you need to consider, and it just occurred to me whilst I was pumping in the car, is your clothing! So here’s a HUGE shout out to companies like Cherry Melon, Sophie and Jane as well as Mama Noo nursing, who make breastfeeding friendly underwear or clothes. There is a BIG difference in being able to pump or feed discretely when it comes to the clothes you wear. Cherry Melon has some fantastic feeding cami’s that unclip at the strap, I wear these under my work clothes everyday, which allows me to maintain a sense of dignity whilst pumping 🙂

Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, know that you aren’t alone. Its tough but it is manageable. Its also a very personal journey, so if you feel that the natural cycle has come to an end, that okay too. This post though is here to encourage you. You can do it, if you want to. There will be ups and downs and ebs and flows, but we have incredible support in this motherhood community, and if you feel you don’t have any, I am here for you!

Happy Birthday Dermalogica – Win a Biolumin-C Serum worth R1599.

Happy Birthday Dermalogica – Win a Biolumin-C Serum worth R1599.

A quarter of a century, that’s quite a milestone. Its a turning point and when one of your favourite skin care brands has been changing lives in South Africa for 25 years, it’s most definitely time to celebrate!

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Dermalogica and they have been treating my skin for well over a decade. Pioneers in the facial industry with their
Face Mapping® skin analysis, and always in the forefront of innovative, distinctive facial products. Their mission is to “define and bring success to the professional skin care therapist through excellent education, innovative products and outstanding customer service”.

To celebrate this iconic brand I’ve partnered with Dermalogica on their 25 days of giving during the month of July, to gift one of my all time favourite products, Biolumin-C Serum, worth R1599,00.

A high-performance Vitamin C serum that works with skin’s own defenses to brighten and firm. Advanced bio-technology fuses ultra-stable Vitamin C and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, helping to dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Its formulated to deliver more Vitamin C into skin, outperforming other Vitamin C products (including those formulated at higher concentrations). Other key ingredients include Vitamin C Complex for brighter, firmer, more radiant skin, Lactic Acid to accelerate cell turnover, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract to help return skin to a calm state after experiencing oxidative stress, and Salvia Hispanica (Chia Seed) Oil to hydrate and help quench free radicals.

Benefits include:

·         Exfoliates and reduces unbalanced pigmentation.

·         Reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

·         Prevents and corrects free radical damage.

Dispense a full dropper and smooth over cleansed face and neck morning and night, after toning and before moisturizing. You’ll notice results within 3 days of using this powerhouse and it was without a doubt my favourite product of 2018. It really is one of their products that I will stand behind 100% and the results are dramatic.

To Enter:

Head on over to my Instagram page and comment on the post celebrating Dermalogica’s 25 years in South Africa. The competition will be run only through Instagram but is in no way affiliated to Instagram. It is valid for one day only, Monday July 15 and entries will close at 5pm.

Stand a second chance of winning with Dermalogica:

Dermalogica is also giving away 25 x R3,000 product and treatment hampers, via other platforms.

– Visit your nearest Dermalogica StockistSorbetConcept Store or Shop Online

– Purchase any Dermalogica product until 31st of July 2019

– WhatsApp a picture of your receipt to +27 72 116 6400

– If you’ve purchased anything online, your purchase is an automatic entry. 

Increase your chances of WINNING:

– Post a picture of yourself or your products to Instagram or Facebook

– Tag @DermalogicaSA | #DermalogicaSA25

– Add the location of your skincare centre, Sorbet or Concept Store

There you have it! Now head on over to my Instagram page to enter enter enter!

That First “Real” Playdate

That First “Real” Playdate

I don’t know how we got here. Time’s flown by so quickly, in the blink of an eye and now we are here… it’s time, my baby is going on his first ever “real” playdate. By “real” I mean sans mama. It’s a drop and go without me and I am absolutely petrified! I found myself in this situation a few months ago and after chatting to a few other mama’s I know I’m not alone in this ocean of emotions.

So lets talk about that first playdate. My eldest came home from school the other day (he is 5) and said “Mom, my friend needs your phone’s password!” “Password ? Why does he need my password?” I enquired, “So his mum can phone you to arrange a playdate!”, now it makes sense 🙂 He needs my phone number! Wow, I didn’t see that one coming, and I certainly didn’t think I would get emotional about it, but I had a mini break down! This isn’t just the boys going around to play at my bestie’s house (that’s different, I know them like the back of my hand), this is a real school friend. A friendship formed between the two of them, without parents around.

My own childhood was spent happily playing at my friends houses, and they would play at mine too. Having a mum that ran her own business meant I would often go home with friends after school and we would spend our afternoons swimming, riding bikes, eating “fruits of the forest” yoghurts and making forts up in trees. I LOVED it, and I can’t wait for my kids to start experiencing all those memories. However, I’m also nervous, happy, proud and a teeny tiny bit sad that my baby is officially growing up.

What to do you take? Will they go swimming? What will they eat? Do I pack snacks? Do I know have to return the offer and schedule one in return? What happens if they get hurt?

It’s a little like their first day at big school! Sooo many questions to consider, soooo many thoughts running through my mind. Thankfully, his friends mother was more seasoned at this then I was, having older daughters. I think she sensed my anxiety, and messaged me to say I didn’t need to stay and put my mind at ease. She also sent me photo’s throughout the afternoon so I could see my baby was having a great time.

We also has another factor to consider, in the food we eat. Aadam is good and he knows when he is not at home he is not allowed to eat meat if mummy and daddy are not around (we are strictly halaal), so we have already said to him no biltong snacks, no hot dogs etc and he is very good about making sure of that.

Its also brought about a new dynamic between him and his brother. This signifies a new chapter. They are going off down their own independent paths. The terrible twosome is going to be divided, they are going to start having their own friends and own “plans”, I just pray they always stay as close as they are and they don’t leave one another out.

I’m happy to report that the playdate went really well. It helped that I know his buddy is the sweetest little boy ever. They have struck up the cutest friendship and I know his family shares a lot of the same values, so from that side of things, I wasn’t nervous at all.

This was a huge milestone for me and one I struggled with immensely. A few things helped me get through:

  • Be completely honest with the other parent. Find out what is expected, where will they be playing (indoors/outdoors) and which parent will be around to supervise. Don’t forget to ask or mention any allergies as well.
  • I packed Aadam a bag the first time, with his bottle of water and some snacks (just in case he was too shy to ask for anything). He totally didn’t need it but it made mama feel better.
  • We baked a little cookie treat to take with to say “thank you”.
  • I thought it best for the first playdate to leave his younger brother out of the picture, he would be more likely to ask for me, or to get tired quickly. This was Aadam’s day, but I made sure to do something special with his younger brother, so he didn’t feel left out.
  • Set a time and stick to it. I feel 2-3 hours are adequate for a play date. For the first I set it at 2 hours, which I felt was enough time for us both to feel comfortable. You definitely don’t want to overstay your welcome and I certainly didn’t want my baby wondering where mummy was (turns out he didn’t want me to get there so soon and would have quite happily played for much longer).
  • If you are hosting – send the other mum pics of them playing or having a good time. Trust me, it makes such a big difference to the other mum.

Child’s play is completely unpredictable so don’t have too many expectations, go with the flow and the kids will have a great time! Did you worry about your child’s first play date? Do you have any other tips to share with parents?

Creamy Butternut Soup

Creamy Butternut Soup

Is there anything more comforting then a big bowl of luxurious butternut soup? Its one of the most simple soups to make, get it wrong and it can be bland as anything but get it right, like this one, and its silky, smooth ,slightly sweet and full of flavor !

Ingredients:

  • 2 good sized knobs of butter
  • Equal amounts of cut up Butternut (500g) and Sweet Potato (I typically use 1 large butternut/1 pkt pre cut and then eyeball the sweet potato to match the butternut amount.
  • Half an Onion diced
  • About 1/2 tsp crushed fresh garlic
  • Chicken Stock (enough to cover the butternut and sweet potato, I normally use about 1 litre.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 green chillie
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut cream)

Method:

  • Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for 30 seconds. Add in garlic and chilli until fragrant.
  • Add in cubed butternut and sweet potato and cover with chicken stock
  • Boil until butternut and potato are soft and then blend with a hand processor until silky smooth
  • Add in salt and pepper to taste as well as the heavy cream (or coconut cream dependent on what you have

Serve with fresh bread or rolls, we love the knotted heat and eat rolls from Woolworths! There are so many variations of butternut soup, but this is our favourite. Classic, warm and absolutely satisfying. How do you make yours?

Sleep Aids To Help Baby – The GRO Company

Sleep Aids To Help Baby – The GRO Company

Just when the boys started sleeping through the night (well almost, apart from jumping into our beds every other night, but that doesn’t count does it?), we go and dive into the newborn realm again. Cue broken sleep, swaddling and constant bags under my eyes.

I thought we were pretty sorted, with Raya being our third child there wasnt much that we “needed” in terms of product, in fact, for my baby shower, I asked for vouchers just to stock up on nappies etc. Let me just tell you however, since having Yusuf 4 years ago, so much has changed! There are alot of new products on the market that we never had with the boys.

The GRO company recently launched into the South African market, through TommmeeTippee and over the past month I have been using some of the award-winning sleep aids that they produce.

Both Raya and my youngest son are winter babies, which typically involves a ton of temperature control and sleeping sacks. The GRO Company was founded by two parents who battled to get their baby to sleep, they were introduced to “Sleep Bags” and after a 12 hour sleep as a result, the Grobag was born! Since then they have diversified their range all with the aim to help with a better nights sleep. So if you’re a mama to be, or are battling with bed time, you may want to read on and add some of these products to your wish list!

The GroEgg2

The GroEgg is a fantastic addition to any sleeping space. In the blink of an eye you can glance to check that the room temperature is comfortable for baby to sleep in. It changes colour based on the temperature, blue being too cold of course and red being too hot. At optimal temperature it gives off an orange/yellow hue. It also acts as a fantastic night light.

GroFriends

Our little “Owlie” is a gorgeous addition to the nursery and as baby gets a bit older will be a great soothing comfort to her (if her brothers give it back to her). The little friends can attach to the side of the crib and play soothing lullabies. They are sound activated and can sense crying, so when baby wakes the Gro Friend plays sounds to soothe and comfort baby. Its travel friendly and also has a nightlight option.

  • Their built in CrySensor allows them to listen out for noises made by baby. When the CrySensor is activated, the Grofriends will automatically start playing their soothing sounds and help settle your child back to sleep.
  • Ollie The Owl and Percy The Penguin can hear all noises within a room but are specifically programmed to react to crying or sharp sounds which may disturb your child.

The GRO Snug

This has been used every night for the past 3 weeks! The GroSnugis a 2-in-1 swaddle and sleep sack. You can keep baby’s arms in, or open up the poppers to let them out. Raya has quickly outgrown hers (she is super tall) and we will absolutely be buying another one. Ours is a gorgeous coral/pink colour it has a unique shaped skirt giving baby plenty of room to kick and sleep in a natural froggy legged position. Its suitable from birth upto 5.5 kgs. Personally I LOVE that it opens up from the bottom, meaning you can easily do night time nappy changes without disturbing baby.

GROclock

One of my favourite products from the Gro Company has to be the GROclock. My boys are absolutely loving it! I was struggling with my youngest son waking up at the crack of dawn and not going back to sleep. The GROclock allows you to set a “wake up” time. The LCD screen shows images of the sun, moon and stars to communicate sleep and wake up times. It shines a sunshine yellow when its time to “wake up”. It has a digital clock but it also has visual imaging. Once you set the clock for the night, it has “stars” around the face, with each star representing an hour of sleep. So for kids that can’t tell the time, they can easily wake up and see “there are 3 stars left”. It has an alarm clock feature, which my eldest loves. Now when they wake up all the do is glance at the screen to see if its wake up time.

Other features include a handy key lock option so kids can change the time by themselves as well as an option to set two separate wake-up times; one for nap time and one for night.

The boys anxiously waiting for their clock to turn to sunshine, which means they can leave their room.

GRO Swaddle Dry

All hooded towels are NOT created equal. This uniquely shaped swaddle towel is an absolute game changer, especially in winter! Made from the softest puredry mirofibre it makes for super quick and easy drying for baba, wrapping her up in a blanket like warmth after her bath. The swaddle shape helps me to wrap her up tight and settles her quickly after bath time.

Its machine washable, can be tumble dried and it comes in 4 fun characters. The Swaddle Dry is suitable for upto 6 months and from there they can move onto GRO Towels which are made from the same super soft and absorbent puredry microfibre, as well as the GRO Robes which I think I need to get for the boys.

The Gro Company products are available from Takealot.com, Baby City, Loot, Charleys Boxes, or selected BabiesRUs stores.

GIVEAWAY – WIN A GRO HAMPER WORTH R1500 !!

As a mum of 3 I know the value of a good nights sleep. I have reached the depths of exhaustion and have tried every single trick in the book. Together with the GRO company I will be giving away a hamper to one lucky parent.

The prize includes:

  • 1 x Grotowel
  • 1 x Grobag 1 TOG 0-6m
  • 1 x Groegg2
  • 1 x Grolight

To enter: Make sure you are following In these Stilettos on Instagram and Facebook. All entries will be done via the social media pages and winners will be announced on Thursday June 20.

Creamy Chicken Corn Soup

Creamy Chicken Corn Soup

This is one of my all time favourite soups. Its comfort food, creamy and sweet with just the right amount of kick. I combined two family recipes here to come up with my own that’s the perfect consistency for me. Its quick and easy and the perfect soup for any time of day!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cubed chicken breast
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • half a tsp crushed green chillies
  • 1 cup fresh cream
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tin creamstyle corn
  • 1 litre of milk
  • 1 pkt knorr thick vegetable soup (optional)*
  • 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
  • Butter/ghee for cooking

Method

Braise onion in a pot with butter, garlic, chillies, salt and pepper, mustard powder until translucent, add in chicken cubes and cook on a gentle heat until cooked through. Add a little water and allow to merge together. Add in the sweetcorn and the milk and bring to a gentle simmer, you don’t want the milk to boil, just a low gentle heat. Make a mini white sauce with the butter and flour and add to the pot to simmer until the soup thickens up. Just before serving add in your cream and a fresh grinding of black pepper.

*Optional: If you feel the soup is not thick enough still add in a few tbsps from the pack of thick vegetable soup to thicken it up some more. (Or substitute the addition of flour with a whole packet of thick vegetable), I often just go with whatever I have time for.

Once again, my hubby prefers a smoother soup, so what I do is add in half the tin of sweetcorn initially. I then blend the soup when its cooked and once its smooth I add in the rest of the sweetcorn. I like the texture of the whole kernels and its a little more aesthetically appealing to me. Garnish with either fresh coriander or some finely chopped spring onion.

Baby Shower Inspiration – Tropical theme

Baby Shower Inspiration – Tropical theme

I thought it was well overdue to write a blog on the beautiful baby shower that was thrown for Baby Raya and I, by my incredibly talented bestie, Megan. I was hesitant with Raya Maryam being our third baba whether to have a shower or not, but she is our first little girl and Megs didn’t take no as an answer 🙂 She jumped at the chance to handle all the decor and has been there every step of the way in planning all my special days. Its events like showers, hen parties and milestone birthdays that make me realise what special people I have in my life. I am so truly grateful to each and every one of the incredible ladies in my life. Every single friendship has a chapter and season and I am a firm believer of everyone being in your life for a particular reason. So before I dive into the detail; thank you to every single person for your contributions and being so special to me. Now onto the shower.

When Meg’s asked me about a venue, the first one that popped into my head was of course, Killarney Country Club. Not only is the golf course my husbands second home, but the gardens and views are so incredibly beautiful, its the perfect place for a “garden” party. We sat outside their newly renovated section under the terrace overlooking the little dam. We could bring in all our own Halaal food and treats and has a few appetizers ordered from the restaurant. They have a fab new outdoor area with some 5 aside soccer fields as well, perfect for the kids to play. I’m just sad they got rid of the “putt-putt” area as the younger kids had a blast playing there.

My favourite part of any event is of course the decor and I knew with Megs being in charge of the styling it would be incredible. I went with the tropical theme for the nursery, so this was the chosen theme for the shower. I am not a “pink and glittery” fan, (and I know Megs would shudder before styling a party like that anyway :)), all I knew about the day is that it would be tropical with pops of gold. Meg created (and her husband built, thank you Dyl), a fantastic frame out of spray painted PVC piping to frame the dessert station. The beautifully lasercut “baby” sign acted as a center piece to the frame. Leeandra, from Fields of Colour , stepped in with the floral arrangements. She did the most incredible tropical leaf feature on the backdrop and transformed the table with her table wear and gorgeous tulips and vases. Lee; thank you so much you have no idea how much I appreciate your efforts.

No detail was overlooked, and each place setting has gorgeous little Maverick and Jane Popcorn as take homes with thank you labels printed and tied with natural rope. All of our parties feature caramel popcorn, so this was a special touch! Tiny alphabet blocks that were lovingly spray painted with Rustoleum added “pops of pink” to the tables.

The Dessert table with a treat with a few of my friends contributing baked goods and savouries. The delicious cake (and mini masterpiece), was created by Cara, from Aristocakes. An incredible pink ombre cake with flecks of gold. It was a super yummy pink ombre sponge inside as well, with a strawberry filling. Thank you Cara for the time spent creating this beauty. Its was so elegant and chic. No party of mine (or Megs), would ever be complete without getting Sugar & Paper involved. Liezl made jaw dropping tropical leaf-themed cookies. Liezl, you blow me away and leave me dumbfounded with each new design. Every single set gets better and better, and trust me, she makes the best tasting sugar cookies as well! Its no joke when I say I often cant eat them because they are too pretty. I literally want to frame them and put them up on a wall!

Corinna, from Corinna Tannian Photography, was on hand to capture all the delicious detail and moments. Corinna, you always capture the most incredible detail, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving up your time and being a part of all of our special moments. You bring so much joy and happiness to our special occasions and your photographs speak for themselves. Memories to last a lifetime.

Finally to Megs, as your Bunting and Blooms journey and new chapter starts, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there for me in my life. Through all the ups and special moments, to all the hard and darker and frustrating times. I thank God the day he placed us in the same Res, and for all the memories we have shared. You are my second sister and always willing to go above and beyond. I’m grateful beyond words for all you do for me, and you did the most incredible job at styling Raya Maryam’s shower.

For anyone looking for incredible event styling in Johannesburg contact Megan to make your vision a reality. For all your styling needs contact Megan:
megan@buntingandblooms.co.za
+27 72 298 5553

Supplier details:

Styling and Design: Bunting + Blooms

Venue: Killarney Country Club

Floral Design and Hire: Fields of Colour

Photographer: Corinna Tannian Photography

Cake: Aristocakes

Sugar Cookies: Sugar & Paper


Fathers Day Gift Guide 2019

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday 16 June and thankfully progressed so much further then beers, braai’s and socks (though i couldn’t resist and included one pair of socks). Gifts have expanded; we can now buy experiences (my favourite kind), artisan coffee making courses to custom designed sports goods. Here are a few of my top picks for this year. All links are attached and you can purchase most of these goods online.

From top left to right:

The K-Way Men’s Harlow Down Jacket is perfect for cold weather outdoor pursuits, its wind and tear proof and is perfect for dad’s daily commute or a weekend hike. I want to get one in black for the whole family! R1 999, available for purchase in store only.

Personalised fleece gown from R499.95 from Netflorist

My husband adores his mini tool kit, you can grab yours from Mantality
at R175.00

Camel Leather Belt from Trend and Miller at R299.

You can never go wrong with a great cologne. YSL Kouros Gift Set from Edgars R1400.00 .

Sweet tooth? How about some Sugar Cookies from Sugar and Paper Parties, ranging from R60 to R130.

Organise all the important things in dad’s life in one space with this
Stand Organizer from Mantality R749.00

Silvery has so many gorgeous options I’m not sure where to start, from the “Compass Coordinate” Cufflinks”, which start at R950 to the personalised KeyChains and Neck pieces which start at R450. Why not engrave their thumbprints or a personal piece onto the Keyring?

Whats Fathers Day without a pair of socks? Best Dad in the Universe from Trend and Miller R79.

Impress the golfer in your life with this Callaway Chipping Shot Net R699.99 avaliable online at the Pro Shop.U

How sauve is this Unisex Leather Vanity for the traveller in your life, avaliable from Thandana at R792.00

The Tekut Bamboo Biltong Slicer will make slicing biltong easier and dad will have endless biltong for those rugby matches and afternoon snacks. Just R399 from Cape Union Mart.

The Leatherman Rebar with Leather Pouch is ideal for handy dads. Again, I think I must have bought my dad at least 3. This is perfect for camping, hiking, or weekends away and comes with convenient features such as screwdrivers, pliers, a file and a saw to name but a few, there isn’t much he won’t be able to do. R1 199 available to purchase in store and online.T

I Love a good leather bag, think there is something so chic about this Medium Traveller Bag from Thandana, R3227.00.

You can never buy a man too many Swiss Army Knives, no seriously, you cant. I’ve bought my dad about 5 (word of advice, don’t keep them in your pocket going through airport security.) The Victorinox Spartan 12 Function is a great entry at R325 from Cape Union Mart.

Netflorist has an incredible range of personalized T-shirts and hoodies. To suit any type of dad, whether you he’s a retro geek or he loves golf, you’ll be sure to find one for your family! From R299.95.

How cool is this laser keyboard? Perfect for the techie dad and small enough to be carried across the world. Laser Keyboard – R799.00 from Mantality.

That’s it! I could have gone on and on but those are my top picks for this year. Happy “daddy’s” day to my dad and my wonderful husband. Anyone can be a father but being a dad is truly a lifetime responsibility.

Giving Back With Cadbury Dairy Milk And “The Little Generosity Shop”

Giving Back With Cadbury Dairy Milk And “The Little Generosity Shop”

We all have toys that our kids don’t play with that we want to give away or donate right? We often never know where to drop them off or run out of time to do so. You may have noticed, a few weeks ago I shared a very poignant advert done by Cadbury. It showed paper planes floating down the centre of the iconic Ponte building, highlighting the fact that 3.7 million orphans in South Africa have very little opportunity to experience the smallest things in life, things like toys and books. In a bid to help turn things around Cadbury Dairy Milk has launched “The Little Generosity Shop” across the country.

What is the shop exactly? Its a mobile store that has been set up for you to drop off your toys/ books that Cadbury will distribute to orphanages and homes across South Africa. Today marks the official opening of the store to the public, and yesterday we popped around for the launch and to drop off our donations. When visiting “The Little Generosity Shop”, you can leave any toys or books you may have and get the opportunity to write a personalized message to a child that will be receiving it. In addition, you can learn about the history of Cadbury Dairy Milk and pick up tips on how to spread your generosity further with “Cadbury Chronicles”. The aim is to collect 3.7 Million toys in this period, and you can watch the counter move as each person donates toys. How cool?

Over the past few weeks we have been sorting through our toys, choosing ones we don’t play with anymore. Giving the boys the authority to choose makes the separation a little easier, but to our surprise we received an exchange of chocolate bars in return, which was a lovely treat for the boys parting with some of their precious toys.

I urge all South Africans to get behind this fantastic initiative. We all have old toys and books that our kids don’st play with anymore, and there are so many children who have never had a chance to play with any. Cadbury Dairy Milk is making it easy for us to drop them off and do the distribution, so there is no excuse not to take part!

You can find “The Little Generosity Shop across the country at the following points:

  • Johannesburg: Sandton City, Checkers Court (29 May – 17 June)
  • Durban: Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Centre Court (25 June – 8 July)
  • Cape Town: Canal Walk Shopping Centre, Centre Court (19 July – 5 August)

There are mobile shops in the following cities:

  • Bloemfontein: Loch Logan (7,8 & 9 June)
  • Port Elizabeth: Baywest Mall (15 & 16 June)
  • Pretoria: Irene Village Mall (28, 29 & 30 June)
  • Nelspruit: Riverside Mall (12, 13 & 14 July)

To find out more visit www.cadburyglassandahalf.co.za , lets make South Africa a better place together!

https://youtu.be/8dKQH_pkXPA
Win a Keedo Voucher – Eid Outfit Inspiration For Kids With Keedo

Win a Keedo Voucher – Eid Outfit Inspiration For Kids With Keedo

The excitement of the morning, waking up before sunrise to prepare for the morning prayer, getting dressed in your very best clothes, eating delicious food and receiving “Eidee” (presents/money) from family. Eid is such a special day for children around the world. Its a celebration of accomplishments and the blessings that we have to be thankful for, to signify the end of the holy month of Ramadaan. With a little over a week to go until the special day, parents everywhere are starting to shop around for Eid outfits for their kids.

It can be hard to find something that looks good, feels good, and can last for a whole day of prayers and festivities. I normally find it to be such a challenge to find cute outfits for the boys that they are able to comfortably play around and last the whole day in. Its either got to be super casual, because if I do go more formal, the jeans are normally too stiff for them to play at ease.

Keedo’s new “Twilight Garden” range has a slightly more formal look to it, whilst still maintaining the comfort and durability that they are known for, making it perfect for special occasions like Eid. Keedo is one of my favourite brands for children, and the fact that I can finally venture into the pretty girls side, makes my heart jump for joy! They are proudly South African and are ethically made, producing clothes that are made for the “adventurous child” who embraces life to the full and loves to be outside and exploring. Sounds like my boys!

I chose for the boys (or rather they chose for themselves), for Yusuf: the “Bookworm Top”, I love the classic lines of this long sleeve top and its a gorgeous thicker fabric with a stretch to it. Stone wash jeans and a Canvas Jacket. For Aadam we chose the “Take Flight” vest, Tab Shirt, Boys Jeans and Smart Cap. I even picked up something for baby Raya Maryam!

The boys will be able to comfortably play around and last the whole day in their Eid clothes this year, and they are already fighting over who gets which outfit! Check out your nearest Keedo Store or online to have a look at your Eid Inspiration.

Giveaway – Win a Keedo Voucher

To help you along the way together with Keedo, I’ll be giving away a R350 Voucher for you to spend towards your shopping! Entering is as simple as following both “In these Stilettos” and Keedo on Instagram and commenting on the picture what you love most about Keedo! Winner will be announced on Monday June 3rd 2019, allowing you enough time to squeeze in your Eid shopping!

Eid Mubarak !!

*Disclaimer* I received a Keedo Voucher to purchase these items, but all opinions and views are my own.

Ramadan Traditions

Ramadan Traditions

I often get asked by my non-muslim friends about our traditions and practices in Islam, in particular around our holy month of Ramadan. When I first reverted to Islam I had a close circle of friends who were all so incredibly welcoming and open in their practise of Islam, sending around food to neighbours (muslim or not) just before Iftaar (the break of fast each evening). They would always set extra places at the table, and the food, somehow, was always enough. One of my closest friends at the time Fatima, is a shining example of what a good Muslimah should be. She could whip up a feast in literally half an hour, without any warning, and make absolutely anyone feel at home. If you reading this Fats, I love you, and I’ll always look up to you!

I digress, I’ve gotten a few questions recently about how we “celebrate” Ramadan, specifically with the kids, and when I asked on instagram recently if anyone was interested to see what we have in our little Ramadan boxes, 100% of you said yes. So here I am sharing 🙂

Last year (with a lot more time on my hands), I made up a gorgeous little Ramadan corner in our playroom. The bookshelf was cleared of everything else and items related to Islam and Ramadan were placed on the shelves. We made up little “Dua Books” (Prayer books) for the boys to write in – On each page we wrote what we were grateful for and learnt a short prayer. We did a number of activities related to the crescent moon (Ramadan follows the cycle of the moon, so the sighting of the crescent moon signifies the start and end of Ramadan). These included making our own moon sighting binoculars, making moons out of plates and sticking on buttons. We also made our own Ramadan calendar (a little like an advent) and in each pocket, for each day, we had a different activity to do. Things like : bake cookies, learn a new Kalima, give money to charity etc.

I reused a lot of these things this year, as you can imagine with a newborn around, time is a little more limited. While I would have loved to have redone or purchased everything new, both time and money were limited!

Ramadan “boxes” are all the trend, so this year I made up a box for the boys. In it, I put a selection of our favourite Islamic children’s books, all from Suhayla Kids. I put together a blog last year on some of my favourite books around Ramadan, and Suhayla Kids has even more titles available this year; you can read up on some of them here.

New cloaks were also put into their boxes, alongside their prayer mats (the boys have always been obsessed with having their own special prayer mats), and a tasbeeh (prayer beads). When I have a little more time I would like to do that as a separate craft, have the boys make up their own prayer beads. I chucked in a couple of colouring books and the Sadaqah Jar (money for charity) we made up last year. We also received the cutest little personalized Wudu towels from their cousin that I added in (Wudu is the act of ablution one makes before praying).

I haven’t got any fancy activities planned for this year, though every week we will be focused on teaching the boys the 99 names of Allah.
The names can often seem complicated and abstract to children. They don’t really know what they “mean”, but by associating the names with an activity or craft, we show the children a more concrete representation, creating a connection and a memory. Apart from that I really would like to take them to an orphanage or charity to get hands on involved in helping others.

So that’s how I prepared the boys Ramadan boxes, I’ve been dying to get Ramadan PJ’s made for them but the closest I got this year was new Pyjamas with the moon on them (close enough right?).

How do you get your kids excited for Ramadan and do you have any special family traditions?

Love Local – Mama Noo Nursing Wear

Love Local – Mama Noo Nursing Wear

Its been a while since a proper blog post, in between feeds and winding and trying to make various kiddos sleep a moment to type is quite rare these days. This is one post however that I cant put off any longer, because their products have made such a difference to me post-partum. In today’s Love Local Blog I feature the dynamic duo behind Mama Noo Maternity and Nursing Wear, and not a moment too soon with their winter range launching in 3 days.

I have the lifestyle maternity bra and it honestly is super comfortable. The cotton is soft and is not too tight at all. It has just enough stretch in it. There is nothing worse then a maternity bra that is too tight or “scratchy”, but the lifestyle bra has been fantastic. I love the fact that it is a sports bra style (there are various styles available), ideal for mums getting back into an exercise regime. I also received a pair of the delicate knickers. These are brilliant for your post-partum needs and are high waisted, which allows extra comfort especially if you have had a c-section. I actually wouldn’t take these to the hospital because I wouldn’t want to ruin them with those first few days after birth, I kept mine for when I was home and things were a little less messy 🙂 Either way a set of these and a bra would be the perfect gift for any mama to be!

Tell me more about yourselves and what you currently do?

Sisters by law, friends in awe. We are two sisters-in-law who became best friends through the journey of getting married and becoming stay-at-home mothers. I (Imne) live in Paarl with my husband and two little buttons (4y old boy and 20mnth old girl). Emsie lives in Stellenbosch with her husband and they have a boy (4y) and little girl(2y).

We love motherhood and try our best to embrace the joys, challenges and daily curve balls that life can throw. However, it is such a privilege to raise our children and be able to have our own business and work from home.

How did “Mama Noo” come about?

We love everything about breastfeeding and truly believe in all the rich benefits it holds. We breastfeed our children for at least 18-24 months. So, whilst on this adventure, we realized the complete lack of beautiful (but still functional and comfortable!) maternity underwear. We certainly did not want to flaunt the ones we then wore for months on end. We started out in October 2016 when our first imported bras arrived. It sold like hot cakes, and we realized the opportunity in our hands. Soon after we decided to start manufacturing locally. This allows us to tailor our products to mothers’ exact needs, and provide outstanding quality, whilst supporting ethical businesses in our own economy. 

What did you study – was it in this field or something different?

Hahaha, not at all. In our previous lives (before children) Emsie is a qualified dietician and I’m a social worker and play therapist.

What was your first job and how did you progress to this?

We both worked for a couple of years in traditional 8-5 environments. Emsie had the natural business skills (developed by having her own dietetics practice), and I always had a knack for art and design and was eager to learn more. We both thrive on creativity applying it in a dynamic environment. The interest in textiles, patterns and fashion grew as we started to develop our own collection of maternity panties and nursing bras. Mama Noo is a great channel for us to utilise our creativity and business skills.

What have been the highlights of starting your own business?

There is something so special about developing your own brand when you believe in its value and difference it can make in mothers (and of course dads 😉 ). Developing our own maternity wear and seeing the result of all the late nights of work (working hours are usually from 21:00-01:00) culminate in one-to-one moments with our clients on a personal level is the heart of what we truly do and enjoy. It is rewarding to see a need in the market addressed through our products while improving our products and in the end generating income.

What’s the best part of your job?

We love seeing a mommy’s face light up when she has fit and felt our lingerie nursing bras or maternity panties and loves the fabric, comfort and support that they offer. We believe in our products and it’s a joy when our customers experience the value of it.

Flexible working hours and being able to work from home with the privilege to be with our children is a blessing. 

What is the most challenging part?

We love being mothers and raising our kids from home, but with this privilege comes a few sacrifices as well. We work during the day when we find a gap and after hours which means work is often delayed and take a little longer to finish to accommodate our family life. We have had ups and downs and needed to climb a few mountains to be where we are today. Everyone in the clothing design business would know how technical a nursing bra is. It has taken us two years to design, test and develop our first Lifestyle Nursing bra that is supportive, sports friendly and gorgeous to wear. We are super proud and cannot wait for our next style to launch soon!

South Africa is still quite conservative when it comes to online shopping. Therefore, mom & baby expos and markets are still the way to go until. Expos can be very time consuming, extra hard work over weekends and time away from our family.

Describe a typical day in your life.

Haha, this can really be subject to change as we have our children with us the whole day without nannies. So our children are part of our business and we plan to accommodate them first…then our business 😉 But a typical day might look something like this: 

06:00-08:00 Read and reply to emails regarding orders for stock, arrangements for fittings and discussions around our patterns and adjustments.

08:00- 12:00 Courier comes to collect parcels for clients. At least once a week we will have a fitting as well. 

12:00 when our youngsters sleep we do some more admin. Sometimes we would get an au pair to help us out during the afternoon.

21:30-00:00 After tidying the home and spending some time with our husbands we would attend to customer queries, reply to emails, budget, prep for new orders to go out the following day.

What are the “secrets” to your success?

We believe in our product’s value and that we really address a need amongst pregnant and nursing moms of all types and sizes that look for comfortable, supportive and functional yet beautiful maternity lingerie.

How do you balance being a mummy and starting your own business.

We are on the journey of figuring it out. As a new online business there is so much that still needs to be developed and mastered. We are only two in the business and working from home (apart from our husbands and grandparents that have their own share as well in supporting us 😉 ).

So, it can be challenging when we are in work mode and when we switch off and just relax and give our full attention to our kids without distractions.

What is your dream for Mama Noo?

To be able to manufacture all our products locally and only sell our own garments.

To be in retail so that moms have a store to go and fit and feel our products.

To export to such an extent that anyone anywhere can be able to buy our products online.

Any tips for people wanting to take the leap and start their own business? 

If you have a dream and the determination to fulfil it and know your “Why?”, the “How?” will come in the process and nothing will stop you.

Get in on the action with the Oreo Cup Challenge

Get in on the action with the Oreo Cup Challenge

One thing you are guaranteed to find in our house, at any given point, is a good old pack of Oreo’s. We like the original ones, with vanilla cream. We also love a good competition, in fact, I’m a little nervous at how competitive the boys are becoming! The timing of the Oreo Cup Challenge which launched recently, has been perfect, with a little extra time to spend with the boys on maternity leave, I have been introducing Aadam to the world of gaming (he already considers himself an F1 guru on the PlayStation 🙂 )

Oreo’s have always been about bringing people together, whether you are twisting, licking or dunking, the brand stands for uniting people, creating conversation and connecting people with lighthearted fun. The range currently spans across the newer Golden range, Original, Oreo Chocolate Crème and a fan favourite, the Oreo Enrobed. If you currently have any of these packs around your house, you can enter the game.  These wonderfilled games will continue to encourage people to come together as they are and connect with the people and world around them.

The Oreo Cup launched globally early on in March and will run till 31 May 2019. It is really simple to enter: simply take the last 4 digits from your barcode number on your favourite Oreo product. The size doesn’t matter, whether it’s an individual 4 pack, or giant-sized Oreo Golden you are set. Each time you enter a barcode number, you receive credits which you can use to play and compete with people from across the world.

If you are lucky enough to get on the leader board (trust me, it’s harder than it looks), there’s a Huawei P20 mobile phone up for grabs, cash prizes and even a PlayStation 4. There are also weekly prizes including Takealot vouchers, airtime and HiSense Smart TVs available to win.

To play any of the games, buy any participating OREO and dial *120*8826# or visit www.oreocup.com Once you’ve logged into the cup website you’ll be able to choose from a variety of different games: There’s Oreo Ladder Dunk, Oreo Crazy Twist, Oreo Flash Lick, Oreo Seesaw Twist and Oreo Spiral Dunk. Follow @Oreo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you are in the following areas, you can join in the fun with the Oreo Cup Activations:

Limpopo

  • Mall of the North – Pick n’ Pay Court: 27 and 28 April

Kwa-Zulu Natal

  • Gateway – Game Court: 4 and 5 May

Port Elizabeth

  • Pier 14- Shoprite Court: 11 and 12 April

Cape Town

  • Canal Walk – Checkers Court: 17 and 18 May
  • Tygervalley – Woolworths Court: 24 and 25 May 

I’m still trying to practice enough to get score over 1000, and beat my husband but so far, I’m failing dismally at both. Word of advice the Oreo Seesaw Twist is way harder than it looks. I think it may be easier to do on a phone rather than a computer.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for a little snippet of us trying to make our mark globally, but right now I’m off to buy another packet of Oreos, not like I needed an excuse in the first place 🙂

Giveaway + Review : Natralogic, South Africa’s Leading, All Natural Maternity Skincare Range

Giveaway + Review : Natralogic, South Africa’s Leading, All Natural Maternity Skincare Range

Something about becoming a mother changed my whole outlook on life. My overall awareness of dangers around us and what we put into and onto our bodies. I became more aware of all the harsh chemicals in the products we use (particularly on my children), so why should the products I use be any different? Lauren, founder and creator of Natralogic, felt the same way when she became a mother. Most products for pregnant mothers contained harmful ingredients that are actually not recommended for use during pregnancy and are associated with a number of health issues. She saw a gap in the market and jumped on it, and I’m so very glad she did!

A few weeks ago I featured Natralogic on my “Love Local” series, and I have been using the products close to 2 months now. I wanted to do my review as always, after a using the products consistently over a few months. I have to be honest, at the time Lauren contacted me I had never even heard of “Natralogic”, but now that I’ve started using it, its something I want to continue to purchase, even after baby is here. You can read more about Lauren and her story here.

Let’s dive into my review of these proudly South African, all natural, maternity skin care range.

First up and most important, in case you weren’t aware: Natralogic products are cruelty free (certified by Beauty Without Cruelty), COSMOS NATURAL certified by ECOCERT Greenlife according to COSMOS standard, Certified Vegan by the Vegan Society, Clinically and Dermatologically certified and are formulated with Certified Organic Ingredients – Did you get all of that??

The full product range currently consists of (available online):

Cooling Leg Gel – To be honest, I would not even call this a gel, as that conjures up images of a thick sticky solution. It’s almost like a liquid lotion, does that make sense? All active ingredients are focused on healing and anti-inflammatory and it has a fabulous peppermint smell that is an instant pick me up. In fact, across all of the products, the natural scents are deeply relaxing. This cooling leg gel improves circulation and reduces water retention and is a welcome relief after a long day at work or running after the boys.

Exfoliating Crème – This instantly transports me to a spa. It’s an absolute treat to rub this into my tummy and thighs before jumping into the shower. The only two improvements I could think of are that  I would like to buy it in a slightly bigger bottle, and I feel the product could be a little bit thicker. That’s me really trying to think of a reason it could improve. The idea behind the Exfoliating Crème is to remove dead skin cells, to speed up cell renewal, and to boost the skin’s natural repair process. It prepares the skin for better product absorption of the toning massage oil. It’s recommended to use the two together to maximise benefits and minimize stretch marks! It leaves my skin fantastically smooth and it has literally become a pre shower “treat” to use.

 

Toning Massage Oil – An absolute winner! It has a subtle citrus undertone that instantly uplifts your mood. The unique blend of natural oils and ingredients are meant to help shape your contours and reduce the appearance of cellulite. To be perfectly honest, the appearance of cellulite is not high up on my priority list whilst pregnant so I haven’t actively looked or noticed a difference in that regard, but I do know that its kept my skin wonderfully hydrated it, and I literally feel like I’ve had a full body treatment at the spa. Its fast absorbing and doesn’t leave an oily residue at all.

 Tummy Crème – I want to call this “Yummy”, I know that’s a weird word to associate with a beauty product, but that’s exactly what this cream is. Its luxurious and well, “creamy”. It was specifically designed to prevent and improve the appearance of stretch marks and I’ll be using it well after pregnancy too. The ingredients focus on promoting collagen and elastin which improves overall skin tone and elasticity. Again, my only complaint about this product is it’s not big enough!!! I also wouldn’t mind seeing in available in a tub as an option, but that’s just so I can scrape out every last inch of it 🙂

Nipple Crème – I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t really “tested” this yet, because I’m still patiently waiting madam’s arrival. I can speak however from the perspective of a mum who has breastfeed two kids so far in saying a good nipple crème is a huge in your breastfeeding journey, and I have tried and used a lot of brands. Natralogic use 100% ultrapure medical grade lanolin and it’s consistency did not come across as sticky at all. I’ll report back on this one after a few weeks, but so far I like what I have seen.

So there is my honest review on the range and I mentioned it in my previous post, but I want to emphasis it again, I am completely and utterly impressed by the luxury and feel of these products. To have something of such a high standard, created by an incredible woman, just blows me away. If you have any questions on the products feel free to comment below, I would would love to hear from you!

Natralogic is available to purchase through their online store – shop here.

Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

This review is sponsored by Natralogic, but all views and opinions are my own. 

GIVEAWAY – Here comes the exciting part!

Together with Natralogic I’ll be giving one lucky mama to be a hamper worth over R1000. This range is truly luxurious and is the ultimate treat! I honestly want to spread the word far and wide over the quality of this range.

You can enter either via Facebook or Instagram, by clicking on the relevant links.

Competition closes at Midnight on April 17th and winner will be announced the following morning.

Hospital Bag Checklist – What To Pack For Mom And Baby

Hospital Bag Checklist – What To Pack For Mom And Baby

I finally did it! At 38 weeks I finally packed my hospital bags 🙂 I always love to leave things till the last-minute, but better late than never right? I asked a poll on my Instastories a few weeks back how many of you were still unsure of what to pack in your hospital bags, and 80% commented that they needed help. It’s one of those things where there are so many lists around you never know quite how much to pack or what is actually needed.

You would think that on baby 3 I would pretty much have this down pat by now but there are still things I stress about forgetting. My packing is pretty streamlined and I know exactly what I will need and when so in terms of bag organisation I think I have that down. The only time you should actually stress about not having something you specifically need is whilst you are in labour, so make sure you have a “mini bag” ready for labour. The rest of the time you aren’t actually away in another city, most of the time hubby or support can pop home to fetch something you need if its urgent. I always pack for a 3 day stay as you never know what might happen, even with all the best intentions you may end up having a c-section so rather be over prepared and ready.

Here are the key items I have packed, separated into moms and baby’s bags 🙂

For Mama:

I pack a smaller bag inside my hospital bag, to take with me into the labour room with essentials such as:

Snacks: I cannot emphasize these enough. By the time Yusuf made an appearance I was so hungry I could have attacked anything in sight. The midwife had kindly organized tea and some breakfast for me (it was about 11am by the time I was in my room), but it did not touch sides at all. Hubby was about to go home to get some sleep himself but before I let him go I made him drive to the nearest Woolworth’s and buy 3 ready-made meals. I literally devoured 3 meals before 2pm came around. There is nothing worse than being in your room and a snack attack hits and you don’t having anything to munch on. For my suitcase I pack the Woolworth’s trail mixes, dried fruit, chips and Energades. I also always pack a packet of gum or some mints.

Identity documents – These are pretty important and can be easily missed. I have to lug my passport everywhere but if you are a South African Citizen your ID would suffice).

Socks and Slippers: Your feet get cold! I pack 3 pairs of socks and I always save up those slippers from hotel or spa stays so I pack a pair of disposable slippers ( I don’t want to take them home after walking around a hospital). You can also pack flops for the shower.

Entertainment: This is your own personal preference. I pack my iPod (yes I’m still old school and I own a separate iPod), my Qu’ran (electric and travel size), I listen to the electronic one normally in early stages of labour. This time around I’ll be packing my iPad with a few pre-downloaded Netflix series on as well. I try to sleep as much as I can when I’m in hospital because I know once I’m home and have the other kids around, rest is not something I’ll be getting a lot of. DO NOT FORGET YOUR CHARGERS!

In my Larger bag I pack:

Nursing bras: I pack 3, these are crucial. You will need the support, but you will also need to be able to whip out your boob on a moment’s notice 🙂 We have a wide selection available in South Africa now from the traditional Carriwell to the modern and functional Bravado, Sophie and Jane and Mama Noo Bras

Disposable underwear: Really, they will be your best friend. Apart from my “going home” outfit I don’t even bother with normal underwear when in hospital. I want to throw everything away. So, I pack 4 to 6 pairs to make sure I have enough. At this point I use the good sexy Carriwell high-waisted ones. The ones that look like you are wearing a hair net, on your bum 🙂

Button up Pyjamas: I only realised the power of a button up pyjama top after having Aadam. It was something as a first-time mum I have never even considered before but after my first night in hospital I promptly sent my mum out to buy me a pair from Woolies. There are some utterly gorgeous lounge style pyjamas out there at the moment, with some equally gorgeous price tags 🙂 So for now, my favourites are typically all from Woolworth’s. I pack 3 pairs.

Maternity Pads: You know its real when you have to go out and do the grudge buys like linen savers and maternity pads 🙂 I’m rejoicing at the fact that lil-lets have come to the party with their own range of maternity pads now. Making child-birth a teeeeeny bit more glamorous 🙂 With the boys I used the age-old Carriwell “boats” that you constantly had to check and made sure they didn’t crunch up or shift. I have now stocked up on the lil-lets brand as they are certainly A LOT thinner and look a lot more “user friendly”.

Breast Pads: You may not may not use these while you are still in hospital. Your milk normally “kicks in” on day 3 but boy oh boy when it does you need to be ready for leakage 🙂 As soon as I am home I use cotton washable ones, but in the hospital, I normally pack 2 or 3 disposable ones.

Toiletries: What you pack is completely up to you, but you want to make sure you have the basics covered. I pack my Johnson’s Face Wipes – if you get in visitors but don’t feel up to walking to the bathroom they are ideal for a quick refresh, I keep a pack next to my bed and apply a little make up on to look fresh! I also pack a bar of dove soap, my Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream , Toothbrush ( I throw this away as well when I leave), Toothpaste, Dove deodorant, small bottles of shampoo conditioner and body lotion and my tangle teezer hairbrush. I certainly do not apply full make up when in hospital but I do take my “basics” which include my L’Oreal infallible foundation, Maybelline Colossal Big Shot Mascara, Matsimela lip balm (always always pack lip balm), a brighter shade lippy for a pick me up. I also pack my Dettol instant hand sanitizer. You guaranteed not to run short on a hand sanitizer in the hospital, but its nice to always have your own.

Eye Mask: My cousin gifted me one at my first baby shower with a little note to say that sometimes they don’t switch off the lights or if you want to have a snooze in the day, to “use this”. I thought it was the sweetest thing ever and something I never forget to include now.

Going home outfit: You can pack this but its something ill often get hubby to bring with on day 2 or 3. So that it’s not all creased and “hospitally”. Remember to pack something looser as you will still be swollen.

Bath towel and face cloth: In case you haven’t noticed I have a slight phobia around hospitals and germs. Yes, even though you are in a labour ward, there are still germs!. I always pack my own towel and facecloth. Pack a plastic packet as well to put it in, just in case it’s still damp when its home time.

Babys’ Bag:

Blankets: I pack 3 muslin wraps, 1 fresh for each day. They are so lightweight and breathable, and baba is snug as can be. I also pack one softer fleece one to put over baba for a chillier night. You are guaranteed to have at least one leakage episode while in the hospital so pack an extra think blanket for just in case. I love how soft the Maccie Bamboo Muslin Blankets are.

Facecloths: 2 facecloths and one longer burping cloth. My one from Baby Little One is the perfect size!

Dummy: I always pack a dummy, with Aadam we got him on his before we even left the hospital, Yusuf never ever took to one though. The brand we have had the most success with has always been NUK.

Clothing: I pack 4 outfits (you always need a spare for any accidents and if you are having a boy I’d probably pack 5 🙂 Boys like to wee, especially when you take off their nappies 🙂 This time around I have packed outfits together in packs to make it easier to grab for changes. In each pack I’ve put a nappy with a vest, 1 x long sleeve babygro (woolies button up ones are perfect for hospital), socks and a hat. I then have a separate one for baba’s going home outfit. There’s a baby grow my mum in law brought over from the UK before I had Aa